The annual rant about poppies

It’s November, a time for tradition, a time for ritual. Which means it’s time for the annual rant about poppy fascism. This year however, at least in this part of Glasgow, it seems that the only people you see wearing a poppy are all on the telly, where poppy wearing is still apparently obligatory. Hardly anyone in the street is wearing one. It looks as though we may have passed peak poppy. This may be a glimmering of hope that the average punter is getting heartily fed up with the mandatory glorification of all things military into which a supposedly sombre remembrance of the dead has morphed in the hands of a British establishment that ordered them to their deaths in the first place.

Let’s be clear, and not in a Theresa May sort of a way. Poppies are political. They cannot be anything else when the funds they raise go to the British Legion, an organisation which is not noted for its opposition to the militarism which sent untold thousands to their deaths. It’s not an organisation which has a reputation for protesting about the atrocities which the armed forces have carried out in the name of the British state. In recent years the British Legion has been proud to accept sponsorship for its poppy events, sponsorship from arms companies which sell weapons to brutal dictatorships. It’s hard to put into words just how tasteless and inappropriate that is, it is exactly the same as accepting sponsorship from a gun manufacturer to commemorate the victims of a spree shooting.

People whose business is in the creation of more war dead don’t sponsor events to commemorate the war dead because they want to see fewer wars and fewer dead. They do it because poppy events and armed forces events have become marketing opportunities for them. They provide a chance to network and sell their products. They allow them to put a gloss of solemn respectability on their business of trading in death and destruction and misery.

Poppies are no longer a symbol that war is wrong, if they ever were. They’re a symbol that states that if you die in a war in the service of the British state then you’re a hero. Meanwhile those who don’t die get cast aside by a British state that doesn’t care. It’s easy to commemorate and glorify the dead, because the dead can’t point out Britain’s hypocrisy. They become a convenient symbol. Those who’ve served in the armed forces are not treated like heroes, they are more likely to end up homeless, more likely to suffer mental heath issues. We live in a country where people who have served in the armed forces find themselves reliant upon charities. That’s not a state which cares for those it tells us are heroes. It’s a state which uses up predominantly working class youths and then casts them aside once it’s done with them.

The truth is that most people who die in wars don’t die heroically. They die brutal deaths that achieve nothing. They die in fear. They die painfully. Poppies help to propagate the dangerous myth that war itself is something heroic, that our participation in wars, so many wars, is something that we should be proud of. Nothing could be further from the truth. War is failure. War means that negotiations have broken down, that words will not suffice, that trust has gone, and all that remains is brutal violence. War may inspire individual acts of heroism in a minority, but war itself is not heroic. It’s a tragedy. It’s a great wrong. It’s the destruction of human lives, and all too often it’s all for nothing except the entrenchment in power of the already powerful. Remembering wars shouldn’t be an occasion for pride, remembering wars should make us all weep for the senseless loss of so many lives.

War is failure, and that means that the British state is one of the greatest historic failures amongst the independent states of the world. Over the past 300 years, Britain has been at war for many more years than it has been at peace.

Yes of course we need to remember those who died in the honourable fight against fascism, we need to remember the conscripts who died in the trenches in the pointless industrialised dying of WW1, but far more often British wars were wars of colonialism, of exploitation, of theft and dispossession. We need to remember that too. The fight against fascism in WW2 was one of the few occasions when the British were clearly and unequivocally the good guys, and that was only because the enemy was your actual Adolf Hitler.

Most British wars were like the colonialist war in Kenya, a violent and brutal oppression with the aim of dispossessing the people of Kenya from their lands and resources. It involved concentration camps, torture, mutilations. Most British wars were like the colonial settlement of Australia, with its organised hunts of Native Australians who were chased down and slaughtered, water holes were poisoned, and the survivors rounded up into camps, their children forcibly stolen from them. Most British wars were like the Opium War with China, fought in order to force the Chinese to allow British traders to flood China with addictive drugs that destroyed families but made huge profits for the British middle classes. Historically, Britain was rarely the good guy, and the British armed forces were the instrument of that malign power.

So let’s be honest here. Let’s remember what the armed forces of the UK have really been used for most of the time. Let’s not allow the British state to hide behind its comfortable myths of heroism and fighting for democracy. Britain is an arms-dealing state, a nuclear weapons possessing state, a state that’s happy to sacrifice the lives of working class people in order to suck up to the United States. It’s a state that propagates militarism and glorifies it. None of this is anything to be proud of. The people who maintain this system, who benefit from the sacrifices of the dead and the wounded, should hold their heads in shame. Poppies have been hijacked to sell British wars and arms dealing. Red poppies are not a symbol of peace. If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one.

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0 thoughts on “The annual rant about poppies

    • A Most worthy charity, Sir. As a disabled ex-serviceman I can assure people that this (and previous) government’s attitude towards those who have served is absolutely appalling. They simply don’t give a fuck.

  1. Watch the hypocrites march on Remembrance Sunday in their tailored uniforms bedecked with ribbons-these are people who have never carried a gun, flown a fighter plane, gone to sea in an ever diminishing Royal Naval. Ask these same hypocrites why men died in the 1st World War and they will trot out stuff like “they died for decency, democracy, honesty and a good life for those whey leave behind”. These hypocrites, mostly our betters and masters, have spent the last century making sure that the principles they quote, freely and often, are betrayed by them daily to ensure that their privilege and wealth continues. When will the people on this island learn? Worst of all for me is the way they treat, or don’t treat, people wounded in the name of British bullshit. How many rich(?), developed, supposedly civilized countries leave their wounded partly to charity? Swines!

  2. Hear! Hear! about heroes being a small minority. My Great Uncle George was an Old Contemptable. August 1914 to 1919. First on the Western Front, initially on his horse, they were Yeoman mounted infantry then in the trenches.

    In 1917 he was one of those sent to the Po Valley in Italy to bolster the Italians against the Austrians. He was back on his horse patrolling the Dolomites, shooting trout in mountain streams from horseback or tossing mills bombs into mountain pools.

    I have a digital copy of his record. He wasn’t a hero, barely scratched. Kept his head down. Saw it as his big life adventure then it was back to the family farm paying rent to the Spencers. There was the Home Guard in the Second but in the Middle of England there wouldn’t have been much to do.

    As a naive star struck 8yo I asked him if he had ever been in a cavalry charge, he replied that since he was still here, no. They did have sabres but they were for fighting enemy cavalry. They dismounted, 1 man in 10 to hold the horses, rest would go forward with their carbines.

    My Father’s family lost nobody in either war, my paternal grandfather George’s brother was too young for the first, in a reserved occupation in the second. My maternal grandfather was also in a reserved occupation. Engineers keeping the country moving, the fuel flowing.

    So i’m ambivalent about poppy day, not convinced all the ‘sacrifice’ was worth it.

    What if they held a war and nobody came?

  3. “The truth is that most people who die in wars don’t die heroically. They die brutal deaths that achieve nothing. They die in fear. They die painfully.”

    As the historian Jamie Bowden-Smith put it (specifically about the soldiers sent to their deaths in WWI):

    “”They were all heroes” is a nice, easy line to follow, but they were human beings. Many died cowering and crying having shat themselves.”

    I would cheer any politician, celeb or whatever who went on television and explicitly refused to wear this symbol of repackaged rah-rah, and pointed out that the annual blood-coloured frothing is intended to distract the more servile and impugn the more principled.

  4. When I bought a poppy in the past growing up in the 70s & 80s, it was not something rammed down our throats like it is now, as something I OUGHT to do.

    I used to buy my poppy in memory of ‘Old Mr Donachie.’ He was a family friend. I remember visiting with my Granny – a very thin old man always coughing in his kitchenette.

    He got caught in a mustard gas attack during the Somme and invalided out. Years later, his baby became ill with chest infections. The doctor discovered the baby, sleeping in her parents small bedroom, was breathing in the mustard gas residue Mr Donachie still breathed out.

    Mr Donachie died of ‘lung disease’ but he was really an unlisted Somme casualty.

    He’d rarely speak to a wee lass like masel but he’d slip a sixpence in my pocket when Granny & I left.

    That was who I bought & wore my poppy for. But I don’t buy one any more. I still remember Mr Donachie, and his cough.

    I honour Mr Donachie in other ways, like voting for an SNP party which will never, ever send young Scots to die in a battle overseas, which is not ours to fight.

    • Bibbit (@allwasdark) Thank you for that poignant remembrance. I wept at the thought of his suffering among the many untold stories.!! I refuse to buy poppies contaminated forever by “Butcher Haig” and his cynical Earl Haig Fund!!

  5. The wearing of a poppy as an act of remembrance was started in 1918 in New York by an American lady academic. The idea of such an act of remembrance was introduced into Europe in France in 1919 by a French woman who was so moved by the idea on her visit to New York. She did it to raise money to help destitute ex-soldiers in France returning from the trenches and unable to find work. She then took the idea to places such as Australia and New Zealand and eventually the UK in 1922.

    My grandfather in WWI and my father in WWII both volunteered to go on active service along with uncles and great uncles. I believe they did this in the defence of freedom and for that reason I choose to wear a red poppy because I can as an act of remembrance for the sacrifice their generations made or where prepared to make. Even if that means putting up with the ignorant. Who of course have the freedom to be ignorant.

      • I admire your restraint, Paul.
        How any sane person can argue against your words here beats me.
        Cannon fodder for the wealthy the rich and the Great Military and Industrial Complex.
        It was always thus.
        I’d no sooner wear a poppy on my lapel than a swastika. It is a symbol of Western Imperialism; a reminder that the New World Order will shed the blood of the working class with deadly force if their power and assets are threatened.

        • You are wrong Jack.

          Yes, the establishment wear the poppy. I believe there is nothing devious or connived with this. The trouble is most today do not know military service. Even in the 1970’s most poppy wore the poppy as respect to the dead. It is for the dead Jack. Wear it as remembrance of them.

          • Andy, I sincerely have no intention to upset, or indeed insult, those who have served, witnessed horrific deaths, and maiming of comrades, and who wear a poppy to commemorate and honour their fallen brothers and sisters, ‘lest we forget’.
            I am sure that Paul is not out to insult or vilify either.
            You say that I am wrong, Andy. Fair enough.
            But if I see another poppy wearing war monger on TV taking the moral high ground….
            I’m done with this, Andy.

          • My grandfather who won three medals in WW2 never wore a poppy and could not stand the British Legion.

          • Yes … we do it privately every day. BUT I believe there is something to be said for honouring our dead publicly by the wearing of a poppy as well. I’ve already explained how much my husband and I owe to the Royal British Legion, who helped us when no-one else could or would. I will continue to wear my poppy in tribute to my relatives who served in two World Wars, and in other conflicts since, and in gratitude to the RBL for their help. “Chacun a son gout”.

      • Paul read my 11.01 post below please. I see your point which has some merit I regret it is you who have missed the point. You would think differently had you fought and seen awful death.

    • “I believe they did this in the defence of freedom…”

      Aye, like all those Scottish, Welsh and Irish boys who were told that they were fighting for “…the freedom of small nations” and then found – those of them who made it home, of course – that their own small nations were as much under the cosh of the Brit gentry, aristocracy and corporate parasites as they had been four years before.

      WWI was fought for colonial advantage, not for anything which could be called an enlightened principle. As the whole poppy stuff derives from WWI, I refuse to wear one, or to contribute to the ‘Royal’ ‘British’ Legion which – as you described, Paul – has got into bed with the least appropriate company imaginable.

  6. Thank you Paul for your insightful article. Spot on as usual.

    WW1 was a travesty – a war so the already rich could get even richer. Which turns out to be the motive of nearly all wars.

    The death rate for Scots soldiers was 26% – for rUK 13%. And Scotland produced the most soldiers per head of population of any country except one other (for Germany). More to do with crushing poverty I suspect than choice.

    I suspect a major ‘attitude’ changer from WW1 was the upper/middle classes bought into the patriotic bullshit, and – due to its industrial nature – got caught up and suffered in the trenches alongside the peasants. Not like previous wars.

    Then not quite 20 years later, unfinished business with WW2 – again they had to rub shoulders in the thick of it, and this time on the home front and in civvy street.

    I strongly believe – this was the game changer that lead to the implementation of the NHS, and the Social Security System. It was not just the poor working class who stood up for it, the middle classes and some of the upper, were also standing up for decency, after all they had seen.

    Long time ago now – a lot of people don’t know they’re born and a main stream media determined to keep it that way.

    • Wise words, also include those that perpetuate the myth that colonialism was good for the colonised!

      In that respect Scotland was the coloniser 200 years ago and in 2017 we are the colonised.

      And in 2017 it ain’t all that great!

      Oh to be in a normal country that runs its own affairs!

  7. No I will continue to wear the red one but thanks anyway. What others choose to wear if they wear any at all is a matter unto themselves. As a veteran I choose to do so not because I have been brainwashed or ordered to but because I myself think it is the correct way for me to show that I have not forgotten those that fell. As a Combat medic in the Army I know at first hand the suffering that war brings and you will get no argument from me on the poppy beening hijacked. The thing is if something gets hijacked then surely it is up to someone to get it back. Other countries wear emblems at certain times of the year to remember the fallen but in truth as a veteran everyday can be one of remembrance. We veterans do not seek any special treatment from the government or society although it is implied that we do so by the forces covenant which is nothing more than a hollow shell of an article that has been devolved to the councils in England, the assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland and of course our own parliament in Edinburgh. What I seek and I guess what others seek is to wear the poppy without the hassle of abuse that can come from certain areas on social media, although I have yet to have someone try and pull me up for wearing one face to face. So basically folks its a personal choice to wear one and of what colour that is or not to wear one.

      • Izzie, Cliff, I too am a Baby Boomer. I think that you miss the point of Paul’s article.
        By all means commemorate your brothers-at-arms’ falling.
        That can be done privately, in local communities even.
        That’s not what WGD is getting at.
        Just watch any telly show tonight.
        We are to be ‘shamed’ into believing that war and slaughter are somehow glorious, that we need to declare this loud and clear every November, and, more disturbingly, that death and slaughter for American Oil is inevitable.
        The English Establishment is not the world’s police force.
        For the past five hundred years we were the criminals.
        When fighting German fascism, we had invaded and subjugated a 1/3 0f the world’s nations.
        If Hitler was a Fascist, what was Winston Churchill?
        Tomorrow, 2/11/2017 is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration; look it up.
        500 years of Brit National Imperialism yet we carry on regardless, with the ‘Make Britain Great Again’ jingoism of the Brexit xenophobes.

        • No guys stop and think. The poppy is an act of remembrance and no I will not do it privately and I most certainly want every politician to attend for after all they are the ones that sent me into harms way. Stop this annual dig at the establishment by getting at the veterans. I will on Sunday take my place along side other veterans on the remembrance parade and I will not be bullied or shamed into any other course of action by the WGD or anyone else.

          • For you it’s clearly an act of solidarity with you comrades, past and present, and that I can understand. It was all a big thing when I was a kid, since my parents’ generation had experienced WWII, which one way or another affected the whole population, in a sense everyone was a ‘comrade’. Furthermore most of those who served were conscripted and would otherwise have had nothing to do with the military. Only a few of these felt the need to parade their nostalgia, most looked back on the experience with I imagine very mixed feelings.

            Since WWII, or not too long after, there has been no conscription, at least not on a massive scale, and wars have mostly been politically inspired, hanging on to this or that bit of former empire. There has been no threat so serious as to involve the mass of the population.

            Time marches on and few now will have personal memories of their country/community/family under a real immediate threat that required military action. On the contrary, our politicians (bless ’em) have never been slow to harness all this ‘patriotic’ tradition to their own nefarious ends. And that is our host’s point, I think.

            I can sympathise with your feelings, but please realise that thankfully few of us now share them, and more to the point, greatly dislike the way they are routinely hijacked.

          • I joined up in 1979 and left in 2002, served pretty much everywhere there was to serve. During that time I had the privilege of serving along side some of the bravest people I have ever met. Now just because some of the actions that my generation where involved in have fallen out of favour with the politically correct that does not mean nor should it mean that those that lost their lives should be forgotten or their sacrifice be tarnished. It is really becoming annoying that some try to enforce a ban on poppies or a ban on the remembrance parades. If you do not want to wear a poppy crack on. if you do not want to watch a parade crack on. But do not ever try to impose political correctness on veterans for that is no better than the politicians and their lies. You hide us away then people forget, people forget then the same mistakes are made over and over.

          • Hear! Hear! Cliff – I agree with what you say wholeheartedly. My husband is a veteran, both my parents served, as did many of my Aunts and Uncles. My Grandfather served in WWI and his younger brother died in WWII, as did another of my Uncles. I will wear my poppy in remembrance of them and in support of my husband. I will (when I can) attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and when I can’t attend I will watch them on TV. I abhor war and everything associated with it but I cannot and will not be coerced into denying the sacrifices made by my family and those like them. If politicians had to fight in the wars they create, war would end tomorrow!

          • Cheers A’bh, it would appear that veterans are the only part of society not allowed to have a parade,,, well so some would wish. I reckon I am without a politically correct atom in my body I was brought up to have respect for others and their property and I expect nothing more of anyone else. It seems that is not the case for some around Remembrance Day. If the government honoured the covenant we would have no need of charities to assist our most vulnerable veterans and without the need for charities then maybe the poppy would have passed into history. But that is not the case so yes it is required to be sold to help those that require help. I had free of charge this year the use of a Legion solicitor. With him by my side I was able to get the correct level of war pension awarded by the tribunal. And that is only one case amongst the many thousands that Legion Scotland help on. So yes on Sunday, at the Livingston Parade, my shiny stuff will be shiny and anything that required getting pressed will be pressed. I will stand alongside other Veterans with as always mixed feelings of pride and sadness. Pride in those that endured so much and sadness in that they never made it home.

    • I am ex forces and have seen death in its worst environment.

      I understand your point Paul but you are not 100% correct. I wear one to remember those killed not because a politician asked them to die for political reasons. Many join the forces as a job and a career and not because of patriotism.

      Remember the dead they did die for there mates and their country no matter why they were sent there. They were individuals not robots.

      • A lot of men like myself did indeed enlist but for economic reasons and many of those were badly educated and had very little opportunities for advancement. I remember my own RSM actively tried to prevent me from sitting ‘O’ level exams (as they then were) overseas, Fortunately, the Colonel in charge of education got to hear about this; pressure was applied; I sat and passed said ‘O’ levels.

  8. I stopped buying them a few years ago. The total hypocrisy of the British state regarding the war dead finally did it for me. That and the true blue Sevco crew in Scotland treating it as a Britnat badge of honour.
    This year seems to be the worst yet. I noticed that there are going to be three weekends of minutes silences at football matches…yes three including one in October. Surely one is enough.
    Last point, why are there armed forces personnel at so many UK sporting events? Watch for it, you’ll be surprised. At Wimbledon they seem to be the security. It’s insidious.

  9. I usually am 100% with you but not this time. Sorry about that. I wear my poppy to honour those who died no more no less. I more than take your points about the hyjacking of the concept in so many ways and I absolutely agree war is futile.

  10. Thanks, Paul. Needed to be said. I can’t stand the sight of all the folks on TV who are obliged to wear a poppy. I’ve not bought a poppy for some years. Used to donate to Brtish legion but stopped some time ago. The homeless ex-servicemans organisation sounds worth supporting.

  11. I HATE that drum’s discordant sound,
    Parading round, and round, and round:
    To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
    And lures from cities and from fields,
    To sell their liberty for charms
    Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;
    And when Ambition’s voice commands,
    To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands.

    I hate that drum’s discordant sound,
    Parading round, and round, and round;
    To me it talks of ravag’d plains,
    And burning towns, and ruin’d swains,
    And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
    And widows’ tears, and orphans’ moans;
    And all that Misery’s hand bestows,
    To fill the catalogue of human woes.

    John Scott of Amwell

  12. can’t believe half the comments on here. clearly people who don’t sound like they served. I have and I’m not ashamed of that. In Scotland we have poppy Scotland which raises money for Erskine hospital, where veterans live and poppies are made. I just find both the article and the comments to be disrespectful. While I’d rather I’d rather see peaceful solutions to conflict situations the reality is that, as humans we will be part of war at times. Governments are not interested in those who are damaged by war – which is why there are places like erskine. Try to remember, whatever your point of view, soldiers are humans too – and no, I don’t march on remembrance day, simply because politicians have highjacked those services…but I do remember people I knew who didn’t come home with me.

    • I don’t read Paul’s post as being disrespectful to those who died in wars – or survived as veterans. He is critical of those who use wars for their own political motives and hypocritically use those who died or were badly damaged by their wars to promote those ends.

      There has been a steady erosion over the years, of the anti-war ideas contained in the heart-rending accounts of the war poets of WW1 which bitterly countered the dishonesty of war leaders, moving to the present day unsubtle presentation of war, yet again, as glorious sacrifice. In the 21st century we seem to have returned to the sentiments of “Dulce et decorum est…….” and forgotten Wilfred Owen’s bitter rejection of them. You are right to speak of the hijacking of the tragic loss of life in past wars in celebratory parades and flag-waving. That is what Paul is attacking.

      It is that irreplaceable loss of young lives represented by all those white headstones in the war cemeteries that break the heart. It is also the co-opting of all those generations of lost young men to justify the actions of politicians which is troubling. The hollow words of politicians who praise our armed forces as heroes yet can’t apparently properly fund the aftercare of those who are damaged mentally and physically by their wars, are disrespectful. They could at least acknowledge their responsibility to those who served in those wars by providing proper care and rehabilitation and not leave it to charitable organizations.

      Paul is not showing soldiers disrespect, but instead those politicians who have used their sacrifice to cover their own self-serving motives. As Paul says, WW2 is probably the only modern war in which the British were obliged to engage. War is tragedy and should not be celebrated.

      • The poppy is to remember the dead. Full stop. The dead were individuals. Wear it for them. Ignore the political use.

  13. You don’t and shouldn’t need a fake flower to remember those who served. It may have started out with good intentions, but has been so politicised and trivialised that frankly it is quite sickening to see. Last year they made metal poppy pins out of used shell fuses from WW1. This year you can remember the fallen in silence because your face is stuffed with a poppy pizza from Tesco for fucks sake.

    Remember the fallen, Donate what you can. But keep a respectful distance from the bullshit and dog whistle accusations from the usual suspects.

    • Well said David. I will always be happy to donate what I can to charities like Erskine House, but do not feel the need to advertise the fact that I have done so by wearing any kind of emblem.

      • I buy my poppy every year and do not wear it. I buy it as a donation towards the upkeep of Erksine house, and the fact that I lost family members in WW1, but I question who benifitted from all wars and conclude that it is the same people who benifitted from the many more people who lost their lives, and were disabled, working in industry during the centuries of the industrial era producing the wealth for them.

  14. I usually wear a poppy in tribute to those who died or were wounded or mutilated in the two world wars. In addition, my grandfather was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme, and my father was wounded twice, in Mesopotamia and then at the Dardanelles (he was in the Navy). I also lost a number of uncles in other battles, including Vimy Ridge and Paschendale.

    They were some of the unfortunates who were brainwashed by the English establishment into fighting an unnecessary war, and which was a war between cousins fought on behalf of the rich and the so-called British Empire.

    The second world war was definitely a war that we needed to fight. I don’t think anyone can question that. Though we can mention how many lives were lost because of that fat drunkard, Churchill, interfering with military matters.

    The other wars fought by the English establishment were mainly to exploit less developed countries and annex these countries. They were purely to benefit the rich and the so-called establishment, and for no other reason. In that number there was that fat drunkard Churchill, a man who did no real fighting in the very short time he was in the Great War, but who was responsible for many unnecessary deaths, primarily in Gallipoli because of his obsession with the Balkans. This is also the man who did his best to prevent, among other things, India being granted its independence.

    The only thing that can be said in favour of the Great War, but at a hellish cost, was the fact that that was the start of the hoi polloi breaking the hold the establishment had over them, with people waking up to how they were continually abused and exploited by the rich.

    Wars should only be fought in self-defence, never for the control or exploitation of other countries. In that regard, the sooner we are free for the clutches of the English, the sooner we can ensure that the Scottish people will only fight in their own defence, and not for the exploiters of other countries like the English, or their American puppet masters.

    • Guga, well said on this extremely sensitive subject.
      We all have family who have ‘served’, and n o one on here is belittling the sacrifices individuals and families have made over the centuries. defending
      Tens of millions of ordinary young men and women met their premature deaths during the 20th Century, on all sides, yet nothing changes.
      We still have Lairds and Landlords, poverty and eviction.
      They strut their stuff wearing a red badge of superiority every November.
      Yet turn a blind eye at the latest Atos assessed suicide.
      Getting angry now.

  15. Just worth noting that for some who have served and those about to. The time you spent in uniform, or about to spend in uniform, does not count towards your state pension anymore. It’s because they’re proud of you. Feel the love, feel the respect, feel the pride.

    • Bibbit (@allwasdark) Thank you for that poignant remembrance. I wept at the thought of his suffering among and of the many untold stories.!! I refuse to buy poppies contaminated forever by “Butcher Haig” and his cynical Earl Haig Fund!!

  16. The story of the Poppy.

    In May 1915 at the battle of Ypres a Canadian called Alexis Helmer died due to a German shell explosion. His friend John McCrae read the lesson at his burial as the chaplain was not available. At the service he wrote this poem.

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place, and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead, short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch, be yours to hold on high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    Then an American teacher called Mione Bell Mitchell wrote her own poem in tribute to this poem. A French woman Anna Geurin created their poem with her. These two poems plus the fact that in 1919 and 1920 when the dead were buried properly on the western front and mood of remembrance grew in these islands. The Government of the UK used the poppy as a mark of remembrance linked to the cenotaph. So many families were affected by the war they readily adopted this.

    The American and French poem is:

    Oh! you who sleep in Flanders fields,
    Sleep sweet – to rise anew
    We caught the torch your threw
    And holding high, we keep the Faith
    with all who died.

    The poppy IS NOT POLITICAL, it is your chance to recognise others sacrifice. Some here are allowing there annoyance of central government to miss the point completely.

  17. “And I can’t help but wonder oh Willy McBride
    Do all those who lie here know why they died
    Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
    Did you really believe that this war would end wars
    Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
    The killing and dying it was all done in vain
    Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
    And again, and again, and again, and again”

    They’ll never learn. They’ll keep on at it again and again.

  18. my comments seems to not appear…
    sorry if it does appear more than once.

    I once heard a well dressed (plummy accent) guy on his phone in Edinburgh, walking through the posh newtown. I know, you shouldn’t evesdrop but, it was fascinating, it went like this. ‘We need to sell this as attractive and exciting, kids are not joining the army so we need to recruit more. That means we have to make it more fun to get these kids to join’.

    The rich elite send young working class to war.

    I will light candles on the 11th, wear a white poppy if I can find one but the red poppy has become a symbol of patriotism, and not of the internationalist, peaceful kind. It symbolises the vanity and triumph of war, and means little in terms of commemorating those millions of young people who died, and other than defeating fascist tyrant Hitler in WW2, war has been a futile exercise.

    Let us hope that the rise in fascism across the world, including in England, is heavily rejected by those standing there on Sunday, with their smart suits and poppies on, the well paid politicians, most who would send our young people to another war, with little hesitation.

  19. I understand that Paul is making the point that wearing the poppy has been hi-jacked by politicians and turned from sombre remembrance into rather nasty jingoism. I get that and I agree with it … BUT …

    I wear a poppy in remembrance of my Grandfather who fought in Flanders from 1916 to 1918. He lived but would never speak of his experience (we learned what little we know from others who were also there) and he was a shattered, broken man for the rest of his life.

    I would also put in a word for the Royal British Legion. My husband is an ex-serviceman and when we fell on hard times in the early 2000s the Legion came to our rescue, providing help to navigate our way through government bureaucracy and also enabling us to replace such things as our vacuum cleaner and washing machine which had both broken down and which we had no hope of replacing at that time. They helped us in so many ways … I will always be grateful to them.

  20. Pingback: The annual rant about poppies | SidLabour

  21. Happy a lot of people have been helped by service men and service women’s charities .

    Now comes the BUT ,in this day and age people having to rely on charities is a throwback to Victorian times , just as food banks are becoming an accepted way of life , and are being used by this regime to cut the cost of benefits.

    WE are going backwards , even workplace rights are in Danger , where does it stop ? work till you drop , these charities set up to support needy scottish children are a bloody embarrassment , a total disgrace , i know the ones operating them believe they are doing good work , FFS waken up these operations are being used to undermine the welfare safety net , soon there will be no net , no security system because the well minded folk have helped in its destruction .

  22. Sorry Paul, it’s rare that I disagree with you but I do here. It is only in recent years that I have started to really make a point of wearing a poppy – since researching my father’s WW2 experiences, and the wider reading that that has led me to. I am not stupid, I am fully aware of the unspeakable acts that Britain has carried out and the terrible fates it has inflicted on even its own troops. My dad was one of around 30,000 men captured in Greece and Crete in 1941, many of whom whose feet had barely touched the ground. I have read about the terrible deaths people suffered during the evacuation of Greece, the miserable existences of prisoners of war, the horrors of the Death Marches, the story of the 51st Highland Division and much more, and the truth is, my desire to wear the poppy only grows stronger – for the sake of remembering all these people and events, not for the sake of those who sent them to their fates, or glorification of the empire, or any other rubbish. I don’t ask others to wear the poppy, but would like to be left to wear mine without being judged for it. I’d happily wear a white on with my red one too, but have never actually seen one on sale.

  23. I see old touchy feely Fallon, has resigned from the cabinet but will still be on the benches.

    Meanwhile Spanish prosecutors are asking for a (EAW) European Arrest Warrant to be issued over Puigdemont.

  24. Eight deposed Catalan ministers sent to prison without bail: Junqueras, Mundó, Turull, Rull, Bassa, Borràs, Forn and Romeva .

    Meanwhile today is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which gave the Zionists a carte blanche in Palestine. Balfour was known to his opponents as “Bloody Balfour.”

    Theresa May will honour the declaration with a slap up meal with Netanyahu and fellow Israeli’s. The reports says the British are proud of their involvement in the declaration.

  25. When I left the UK in 1999 I didn’t think the jingoism could get any worse. Apparently it has.

    Later this month we’ll have a very small memorial service in the local cemetery, next to the memorials of German soldiers, but remembering all people killed by all war. It’s a much more dignified way to remember how awful war is.

    Of course, Germany learned from the second world war and hasn’t invaded anyone since, which seems a better way to honour the sacrifice of previous generations.

  26. Conscription was finished with after national service ended in 1960. Anyone who signed up after that did so voluntarily and knew the risks. I won’t be wearing a poppy.

  27. An interesting post. One for which I’m not sure I agree or disagree as it doesn’t give clear links to any evidence for or against. What I would say is that if you feel the poppy has been hijacked and by purchasing and displaying one you think you are financing the war machine, then pay attention to your pension, your bank account, your savings, your insurance. These are the true financiers of the military machine. Who’s making all these bullets?, these weapons? Who’s investing in them. The trust is that it’s most of us, every day of our lives by not making any effort to look deeper into the dealings of those who manage our money.

    So I say, wear a poppy if you want, red or white, but also take time to investigate and remove your money from institutions that support nuclear weapons, bullet manufacturers, bomb makers, and perhaps even fossil fuels. For the latter is the last true war, ignorant humans against Mother Nature, this is our final global war and right now the odds are NOT in our favour and there will be no-one left in generations to come to wear a poppy for us. We the people who every day, kill others by creating storms, droughts, fires, floods, landslides, crop failures, etc.

    There’s no poppy for the planet.

    I commend the post to raise the issue but we tinker at the edges of a WW3 against nature. Another political failure which will affect every single one of us, irrespective of us wearing a uniform or not.

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