THE SNP is attempting to force a Holyrood vote censuring the BBC’s Question Time programme for featuring Nigel Farage and George Galloway in an edition broadcast from Edinburgh.
Nationalist MSP Kenneth Gibson yesterday tabled a parliamentary motion objecting to the presence of the Ukip and Respect leaders on the panel, on the grounds that their parties have no elected representatives in Scotland.
If sufficient MSPs back the motion, it will be debated and voted upon at Holyrood.
Thursday’s Question Time, before a studio audience of 16and 17-year-olds, also featured the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Roberston, independence-supporting journalist Lesley Riddoch, Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar.
Mr Gibson’s motion criticises Question Time’s approach to Scotland and claims the programme failed to reflect political reality north of the Border.
It argues the Greens and Liberal Democrats should have been represented on the panel and urges the BBC to “reflect on its choice of Question Time guests and their relevance to Scotland”.
Mr Gibson said: “The programme was perfectly properly chaired, and t he audience of 16 and 17-year-olds was lively and engaged, but in assembling such an unbalanced and unrepresentative panel, the BBC failed to cover the independence referendum properly.
“The panel included representatives of two parties which advocate a No vote – Ukip and Respect – which don’t have any representation in Scotland at any level.
“Yet it did not include the Scottish Green Party, which supports independence, has both MSPs and councillors, and would have helped deliver a more balanced panel.”
He added: “The issue is broader than just one panel on one programme. The BBC is Scotland’s national broadcaster, and parachuting someone as utterly unrepresentative as Nigel Farage into Scotland to take part in a programme which largely focused on independence shows that there is a problem with the BBC’s coverage of the referendum.”
On a recent visit to Edinburgh Mr Farage, whose party wants Britain to leave the EU and campaigns for tight curbs on immigration, was targeted by an angry mob of pro-independence and anti-racist demonstrators.
The MEP was locked in a pub for his own safety before being rescued by a police riot van as protesters yelled “go back to England”.
Alex Salmond’s subsequent refusal to condemn the protests was criticised by Mr Galloway during Thursday’s discussion.
Mr Galloway also used the programme to launch a powerful attack on Scottish independence.
The Scot, who represented Glasgow Hillhead and Glasgow Kelvin as a Labour MP for many years, formed Respect after his expulsion from Labour over outspoken criticism of Tony Blair during the Iraq War.
A spokesman for Mr Galloway, who is MP for Bradford West, said: “This is desperately parochial and rather pathetic by the SNP. Are they saying that only people who are geographically based in Scotland are allowed to comment?
“George was instrumental in the campaign for a Scottish parliament.”
The BBC defended the Question Time panel following criticism ahead of the show. A spokeswoman said it sought to reflect a broad range of political opinion while offering a UK-wide audience a varied and interesting debate.
Via Jeff Duncan