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Poppy abuse

Poppies by Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy

Poppies by Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy

A pat on the back for ITV London News presenter Charlotte White who stuck to her decision not to wear a poppy on air despite a torrent of abuse on Twitter.

That takes some guts seeing as that almost everyone appearing on TV news or chat programmes in the run up to Remembrance Day wore one.

The BBC for its part insisted that no coercion was involved, which is probably true. On the other hand, it is clear that everyone was expected to wear a poppy on their lapel.

If they didn’t they were practically denounced as traitors or subjected to deranged insults, like Charlotte. She was called a ‘fat s–g’, ‘black c–t’, and told to ‘go back to where you came from’

As for politicians, only committed socialists like George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn dared to appear in public without one.

Whereas the poppy is supposed to be a symbol of remembrance for those who died in the carnage of the First World War – poppies were the first flowers to grow in the earth of soldiers’ battlefield graves – it has now been hijacked as a symbol of support for the British military, which is sent to wage war against countries that never attacked us… Iraq, Afghanistan and, almost, Syria.

David Cameron’s announcement of a £55m “celebration” of the First World War during its centenary next year is an extension of this. Expect more flag waving jingoism and soldier worship.

There’s nothing wrong of course with remembering the war dead, but when we do we should also remember the horror and futility of war and the importance of peace.

The poppy appeal itself is meant to raise money for the armed forces, particularly those who have been injured or disabled in conflict.

So while politicians wax lyrical about “our heroes”, they are not prepared to provide sufficient state funds to support their welfare.

Instead, volunteer poppy sellers have to stand on street corners on cold November days rattling tin cans for public charity. Such hypocrisy! Then again, it is not politicians’ sons who are being sent into battle.

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