Having watched the hour-long Question Time extravaganza on the EU constitution, broadcast live from Paris, courtesy of BBC 1 television and David Dimbleby, there is only conclusion to be drawn – that the BBC has ruled itself out of the game.
With six panellists, including two Frenchmen, plus notables like Caroline Lucas, Denis MacShane, Eddie Izzard, Liam Fox, with frequent interjections from the audience, all you got was a cacophony of sound. How anyone, with the best will in the word, could drawn any conclusions from the programme, how it could in any way help anyone make up their mind, is simply beyond imagining. "Entertainment", I suppose it was – passionate, it certainly was. Theatre, maybe. Informative? Definitely not.
We did however, have MacShane, without a hint of a blush, assert that politicians must "stop swapping insults" and "tell the truth". This is the man who felt quite happy, not a little while ago, to brand Eurosceptics as "Xenophobes" and who, whenever he was presented with an opportunity on this programme, claimed that the constitution made the EU "more democratic" and that it "returns power to the nation states" – both complete lies.
Not content with that, the man also asserted that the EU had been built on the "dream" of preventing war in Europe, then declaring: "If we tear that up, the clock of history can go backwards". This is the Margot "Holocaust argument" all over again. Funny how all the "colleagues" seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
Then, to add further insult to injury, MacShane, in virtually the same breath, accused the "no" campaign of resorting to fear tactics.
If Question Time had been a grown-up programme, it could have taken just those assertions, and based the whole programme around it. Instead, by cramming so much in, the impact is lost and the points are never argued through to any conclusion. Furthermore, this is not the first time, by any means, the BBC has crammed its programmes, turning them into a miasma of incoherence. It seems very much part of a trend.
In short, there were too many questions, and not enough answers. Anyone who wants to be informed about the EU constitution is going to have to look elsewhere. The BBC is no longer in the business of supplying answers – if indeed it ever was.