Last night's Question Time came from Gravesend in Kent. The panel consisted of John Redwood MP, Susan Kramer, former Libdem MP who lost to Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park seat, Alastair Campbell, Piers Morgan and Sir Max Hastings. One elected politician in a panel of five.
David Dimbleby, the show's host, explained that No 10 had made it clear that a Cabinet minister was 'available' to appear but only if Mr Campbell was replaced by a member of the shadow cabinet.
Number 10 asked for him to be replaced by a shadow minister but the BBC refused on a point of 'fundamental principle'.
Gavin Allen, the show's executive editor, said it was the first time in his three years in the job that No 10 had made such a demand. "It is a fundamental principle of our independence that politicians cannot dictate who sits on the panel," he said.
"Parties are free to accept or reject those invitations but they do not have a right of veto over other panelists. Licence fee payers rightly insist that the BBC must be free from political interference.
Mr Allen continues to dig a bigger hole for himself when he said Mr Campbell was one of the most 'senior and influential' figures in the Labour movement. A matter of opinion Mr Allen, a matter of opinion. The juvenile behaviour of Campbell holding up a photograph of David Laws at the end of the programme, while suggesting he had been scheduled to appear, was pathetic.
What Mr Allen fails to understand is that the British public like fair play and his adoration of Mr Campbell is seen as favouritism - by me anyway. In recent years the quality of debate of Question Time has diminished, with the occasional exception. The few times they base the programme in Scotland many of the panel are bussed (or taxied) in from England and have little knowledge of Scottish politics.
I would like to see No 10 continuing to make a stand by refusing to present a government minister unless there is a shadow government minister also on the panel. If the BBC want a quality political discussion programme that is the way to proceed.
Maybe it is time for the BBC to close the curtains on the David Dimbleby chat show.