BBCQTI normally object to political hacks objecting to media bias. With the newspapers in particular, it always sounds like sailors complaining about the wind. But the BBC is a slightly special case. And Question Time is the most special case of all outside general election campaigns, because of its profile and because the balance is so easy to achieve. They don’t need every party on every panel, but over the piece the panellists they choose need to reflect the views of the public as reflected by their elected representatives.

And that varies across the UK. Tonight’s Scottish episode is significant in two ways. It’s a week before a Holyrood by-election, and the audience will be entirely 16- and 17-year-olds, to reflect the fact that young people are being enfranchised for the first time in the independence referendum.

Five parties are represented at Holyrood, and all five are standing in Aberdeen Donside, but there’s no Green on the panel. Instead we will have to tolerate both Nigel Farage and George Galloway again. Neither of them represent Scottish constituencies, and neither UKIP nor Respect have any elected representatives in Scotland. Both oppose Scottish independence, too. So, rather than a three-to-two balance in favour of the status quo, which would have been the politicians’ split if BBCQT even noticed actual Holyrood election results when considering balance, we’ll see a four-to-one split against, with just Angus Robertson the only politician speaking up for Scottish self-determination.

The Lib Dems are also being excluded, which is a mistake too. Willie Rennie or another from his group – I’d like to see Liam McArthur get a crack, for instance – have a right to be there tonight just as much as Patrick Harvie or Alison Johnstone do. A panel of six, like they have planned already, would allow them all five actual Scottish parliamentary parties plus the only ray of light in this whole fiasco: the indomitable Lesley Riddoch. She’ll be brilliant and she’ll be feisty, and she’ll help make up for the problems with the panel. But that doesn’t make this good enough.

BBCQT come to Scotland about three times a year, incidentally, and over the fourteen years since the first Holyrood election they’ve only once had a Scottish Green on: Patrick’s slot in 2011, even though Holyrood has always had Green MSPs. Do they really think Nigel Farage or George Galloway are more relevant in Scotland than the Greens? It’s perhaps time for the producers to admit they don’t give a stuff about fairness and balance on Question Time. They just want a rammy, so perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t put Nick Griffin and Melanie Phillips on.

To exclude two sane voices in the independence debate (one from each side) in favour of two wild and unrepresentative demagogues, both on the same side on this issue: that’s bizarre. To exclude two of the Holyrood parties who are contesting next week’s by-election: that’s totally unacceptable. Let the official complaints begin. Update: you can complain here.

pic from here