Including RT among British channels gives viewers more balance - Ken Livingstone, fmr London mayor
The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has attacked Labour MPs for appearing on RT, branding it "a scandal." However, a number of Conservative MPs have also appeared on RT, not to mention Boris Johnson's own father, Stanley Johnson, who just last month was interviewed on RT’s Going Underground program.
RT spoke to the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and the members of smaller parties who are also frequent guests on the channel and asked what they thought of the foreign secretary's remarks.
RT: What do you make of the comments from Boris Johnson?
Ken Livingstone: It's absolute rubbish. I watch British television channels. But I also watch RT and Al Jazeera, and so on. It gives you a better balance. Every country with television channels will broadly reflect their culture and their interests. If you are just confined to watching British television or reading British papers, you will not know a lot about what is going on in the world - America's complicity and Britain's support in overthrowing democratically elected governments, or selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which it is using to kill many innocent civilians in Yemen.
I find that when I am watching RT I am getting better coverage about the scale of the loss of life by Western interference in Syria, which you just don't see if you're watching British television or reading British papers.
RT: Boris Johnson targeted Labour MPs in particular. Can't they decide for themselves which channel they appear on?
KL: I’ll tell you this. If you offer Boris Johnson several thousand pounds to come on RT, he would suddenly find a reason for doing it. Johnson has been promoting himself his entire political career going on any media outlet he can get on to. What is the situation here is - he is now a Foreign Secretary defending Western interests and Western strategy in places like the Middle East and therefore he wants to undermine any other media outlet that is challenging the sort of propaganda that the British government pumps out.
RT: Do you think people will listen to what Boris Johnson has said and be deterred from coming on to channels like RT?
KL: No, not at all. Boris Johnson has actually alienated a lot of his own colleagues in the House of Commons on Conservative benches because they are beginning to realize he is not seriously a politician with a real political agenda. He is just a person who wants to be famous. He should have gone into show business. He would be better at that.
'Absolute typical Johnson deflection'
RT: Why is it scandalous that MSPs like yourself or MPs to come and talk freely on RT?
James Dornan, Scottish Parliament member: Let’s be serious, here. I’m not one to defend RT, I’m not one here to defend Russia, I’m not one to defend anyone here particularly. This is Boris trying to deflect from the fact that every time he opens his mouth the biggest embarrassment and scandal is that he is the foreign secretary of the UK. He gets up, doesn’t talk about the issues that are in front of him and starts to talk about anything else to deflect away from what he is meant to talk about to try and make sure that people don’t understand what he is saying. And he seems to have succeeded quite well again.
We should be able to talk on RT. RT gave UKIP publicity when nobody else would. When the BBC, which is establishment lefty-based TV station wouldn’t give us any publicity…Boris Johnson came out with a lot of nonsense with his usual eloquent windbaggery. He said after the Brexit vote the BBC was rampantly anti-Brexit and biased. Now he praises the BBC and blames the Russians. He can’t have his cake and eat it...The only consistent thing about Boris is his total inconsistency…We have the right to watch as many channels as we can. We should be on as many channels as we can. It is up to the public to make up their mind what they believe. - David Coburn, UKIP MEP
RT: Do you think Boris' words will hold much sway? Will he scare people away from the channel?
JD: Who takes Boris seriously these days? If I were RT, I would be thinking he has some cheap publicity. That is Boris Johnson. He is not a serious figure anymore. He is a figure of fun. Just let it go.
RT: There is some hypocrisy in what he said because his own father after all was on RT not so long ago, isn’t it?
JD: Hypocrisy and Boris seem to go quite closely together these days. There has hardly been a media interview when he hasn’t said something that has been the exact opposite of something he said not long ago. There is no surprise here… I know a number of Conservative MPs have been on here, and a number of Labour MPs have been on and other parties. I’ve been debating with members from all different parties before, and I’ve had a hard time from your presenters before. This is just an absolute typical Johnson deflection.