Chiswick Councillor Defends Interview On Russia Today
Jo Biddolph was criticising Hounslow Council for continuing to fly the EU flag
The leader of Chiswick Conservatives, councillor Jo Biddolph has defended herself against criticism after appearing on state-funded television station Russia Today (RT).
The interview centred around her opposition to a decision by Hounslow Council to continue to fly the EU flag, a move which she described as 'divisive'.
Following criticism from some local residents, questioning her judgment in appearing on the Russian TV station, Cllr Biddolph, who represents Turnham Green ward, said she had given it considerable thought beforehand and decided on balance it was the right thing to do.
"Having said that, it's not a channel I would appear on regularly," she told Chiswickw4.com.
She added that Labour's Cllr Salman Shaheen, who represents Isleworth ward, was a regular commentator on Russia Today.
Last year Ofcom fined RT, which is funded by the Kremlin, £200,000, for serious failures to comply with UK broadcasting rules on impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes - mainly in relation to matters of political controversy and current public policy – namely the UK Government’s response to the events in Salisbury, and the Syrian conflict.
Critics, including Boris Johnson, have accused it of spreading pro-government propaganda. However several leading Tory and Labour figures, including Jeremy Corbyn, have appeared on the station, which has also featured Julian Assange and George Galloway.
Cllr Biddolph says that she considers leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran's photograph on the Hounslow Council website waving the EU flag as a 'provocative act'.
"As I stressed during the interview, Chiswick and Hounslow borough are multicultural, multi-faith and internationalist in outlook - and I'm proud to represent part of this borough.
"I consider that waving the EU flag is a provocative act as it excludes the many other nationalities that are represented here.
"It also reignited the division generated by Brexit, disrupting the relative calm we have experienced since the decisive outcome of the general election.
"As for appearing on RT TV, it's an international channel with a global reach and I think it's important that our borough is represented and promoted internationally.
"I was interviewed on the UK channel mindful, also, that we have the London Russian Orthodox church in Chiswick's Turnham Green ward. I gave considerable thought to being interviewed on RT TV and decided that, on balance, it was the right thing to do. Having said that, it's not a channel I would appear on regularly."
Leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran said flying the EU and the UK flags over Hounslow House was intended as a symbol that Hounslow remained an 'internationalist borough' and 'a place EU citizens can call home'. Hounslow voted by a majority to 'Remain' in the Referendum.
Cllr Curran said: “Although the decision to leave the EU has been made, we know there is still a lot of uncertainty and concern among our EU citizens, their families and employers, as well as local businesses and organisations.
“Our EU citizens, many of whom work for the council and our partners such as schools, health and social care services, and the police, contribute a huge amount to the diversity and rich culture of the borough. They are our friends, neighbours and loved ones, and we want them to stay.
“As well as the council advising and supporting them as best we can, we want to make sure they continue to feel welcome as valued members of our communities. We’re going to keep flying the EU flag as a symbol that we remain an internationalist borough, a gateway to London for people and business, and a place which embraces diversity and which EU citizens can call home.”
However, some have accused Hounslow Council of ‘not listening to voters’, given Britain’s decision to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.
February 18, 2020