I'll be interested to see the earlier part of the programme to find out whether Angus Robertson and Lesley Riddoch attempted to raise the issue of bias, and if so whether they were allowed to talk about it at any length. Certainly when Nick Griffin was on the show the entire debate seemed to revolve around whether the producers had been right to allow him a platform, so I see no reason why a similar discussion shouldn't have been permitted this time given the huge level of concern expressed. What particularly troubles me about the Question Time production team is their macho attitude - we saw it before in their arrogant reply to the criticisms of the notorious Glasgow edition of the programme in 2010. It's as if their default response to negative feedback from Scotland is not to pause for reflection, but instead to pat themselves on the back and bizarrely treat the criticisms as proof that they must be getting it right at "UK level". Scotland is terribly parochial, don't-cha-know, so if the Jocks don't like what we're doing we must be pretty much on the right track.
Hmmm. Wouldn't it be better to at least go through the basic process of working out whether your detractors' logic has some validity? As noted above, this was to all intents and purposes an independence referendum special, which in normal circumstances would entail parity of representation between the two sides of the debate. If for some reason there wasn't to be exact parity, where should the balance have fallen? 55% of the members of the elected Scottish Parliament are pro-independence. 51% of the list vote in the most recent opinion poll went to pro-independence parties. Two of the five parties represented at Holyrood are pro-independence. Therefore, if there were to be five representatives of political parties on the show, it seems clear that the correct number of pro-independence politicians was either two or three. How the producers could conclude that a 4-1 split in favour of the anti-independence side was appropriate is beyond me, particularly as they had to bus in two English-based politicians (representing essentially English parties) to achieve that imbalance.
The case for the defence from the producers seems to be that the programme had to be "of interest" to non-Scottish viewers, which necessitated the bringing in of box office names like Farage and Galloway. Clearly that argument is fatuous beyond words, but even if we take it at face value, why should that be inconsistent with a balanced panel? For instance, if we had to have a firebrand socialist with box office credentials, why couldn't it have been pro-independence Tommy Sheridan rather than anti-independence George Galloway? Or how about Margo MacDonald - wouldn't she have been just as good a watch in Finchley as in Fintry?
One last specific point - the producers' excuse for excluding the Greens does not inspire a huge amount of confidence that they in any sense "get it" about the distinctiveness of the Scottish political system...
"The Question Time panel is chosen carefully across the series and the Green party has appeared on the programme twice in the last four months. The Scottish Greens will be invited to appear on the programme in a future edition recorded in Scotland."
Is it just me, or do you get the distinct impression that they're not even aware that "the Green party" they're referring to is the Green Party of England and Wales, which is entirely separate from the Scottish Green Party? That's hardly a pedantic distinction either, given the Scottish Greens' participation in the Yes campaign. So it seems a primary rationale for the obscene under-representation of the pro-independence side last night was to avoid at all costs the appalling danger of giving slightly too much prominence to the Green Party of England and Wales "across the series".
Bonkers. Utterly bonkers. Who exactly is it that's being "parochial" here?