Why I wear the White Poppy, not the Red Poppy

I would wear a red poppy if it was a symbol of remembrance for all the victims of war, and not just the ones who did the killing. By excluding the non-military victims of war from remembrance, the red poppy upholds a moral hierarchy of worthy and unworthy victims: the heroic soldier who is worthy of respect and official commemoration, and the unworthy, unnamed civilians killed or maimed by the heroic soldier who remains unacknowledged and unremembered. This validation of those who wage war and the moral hierarchy of victims is a central part of the cultural architecture which upholds the continuing institution of war in our society. It is a central part of what makes war possible. When the red poppy comes to be associated with an honest public acknowledgement of all the people killed by our soldiers, enemy soldiers and civilians alike; when it symbolizes our sorrow and regret for all the victims of war, not just a chosen few; then I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it did not function to hide the truth and obscure reality – if it wasn’t a way of enforcing a particular kind of collective memory which is actually designed to forget uncomfortable realities; if it wasn’t intimately tied up with a whole series of myths and untruths about heroic sacrifice and necessary violence in war. The truth is that war is cruel, bloody, and inglorious, and that the soldiers we remember are there to kill and maim fellow human beings, and to die screaming for their mothers. The truth is that when we send soldiers to kill others, we consign those who survive to mental and moral injury; a huge proportion of them will attempt suicide in one way or another after they return home. The truth is that many of our wars are nothing to do with freedom, liberty, or democracy; they are often illegal, pointless, or predatory. When the red poppy is associated with an honest debate on the reality and morality of our wars; when it acknowledges the truth about the horror of war and its often pointless slaughter of our best and brightest; then I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if its fund-raising and symbolism had the true interests of the military personnel it purports to support at heart. The fact is that the best interests of every military person would be to never have to kill or face death or mutilation ever again, and certainly not for the squalid purposes most often dreamed up by our venal and vainglorious politicians. The funds raised by the red poppy should be used to work for the end of all war, not to make up for the short-coming in state support for military personnel or to prepare the nation for the further slaughter of our fellow citizens in future wars.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t a way for the state to offset the costs of war so that it can engage in ever more military adventures. In truth, the state sends the nation’s young people to war and then refuses to spend the necessary money on supporting them when they return home. Buying a red poppy is in effect a second tax for funding war, as it allows the state to spend the money it should have spent on rehabilitation on buying new weapons and training new soldiers. Instead of buying a red poppy, we should demand that the state pay the full support and rehabilitation of all soldiers who need it out of the taxes we have already paid to the military. If this means that there is not enough money for the next military adventure because we are taking care of the last war’s victims, then this is how it should be. It should not be easy for governments to take the decision to go to war; they must pay the full cost. If the red poppy came to symbolize a challenge to government to properly care for service personnel; if it was a means to really question the decision to go to war, instead of implicitly supporting every war regardless of its morality; I would consider wearing a red poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t used socially to enforce an unthinking patriotism, and to punish and discipline those who would question the morality of war or the values of militarism. Those who fervently promote the red poppy often assert that the soldiers we remember fought for our freedom, but this does not include the freedom to question military values or public displays of violent patriotism. Anyone should be allowed to refuse to wear a red poppy in public on the basis of conscience without being questioned or looked down upon, or even to wear a different coloured poppy.

I would wear a red poppy if it wasn’t part of a broader militarism in our society which makes war more likely, rather than less; if it wasn’t bound up with national narratives of heroism and the legitimacy and rightness of military force; and if it wasn’t implicitly supportive of military values. If the red poppy came to symbolize opposition to war and support for peaceful values; I would consider wearing it.

I wear the White Poppy because it is an unambiguous commitment to peace, the end of all war and opposition to militarism. The Red Poppy may have once been part of a commemorative culture shortly after the First World War that was aimed at working towards ensuring that no one ever had to experience the horrors of war again; but this meaning has long since vanished, replaced instead by an insidious military patriotism. The White Poppy is now the main symbol of a commitment to remember all the victims of war, to tell the truth about war, to work to ensure that no soldier ever has to suffer its horrors again, and to make peace the central value of our culture, instead of militarism.

(You can order a white poppy to wear from: http://www.ppu.org.uk/whitepoppy/index.html)

Here are some other useful articles on this topic:








About richardjacksonterrorismblog

I am currently Professor of Peace Studies and the Director of the National Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Prior to this, I was Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. I study and teach on issues of pacifism and nonviolence, terrorism, political violence, conflict resolution and war. I have published several books on these topics, including: The Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies (Routledge, 2016); Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; co-authored with Lee Jarvis, Jeroen Gunning and Marie Breen Smyth); Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Cases (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010; edited by Richard Jackson, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting); Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; edited by Richard Jackson, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning); Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-first Century: Principles, Methods and Approaches (Ann Arbor MI: Michigan University Press, 2009; co-authored with Jacob Bercovitch); and Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005). I am also the editor-in-chief of the academic journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism. In 2014, I published a research-based novel entitled, Confessions of a Terrorist (Zed Books, 2014) which explores the mind and motivation of a terrorist.
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86 Responses to Why I wear the White Poppy, not the Red Poppy

  1. Another excellent article that punctures the historical amnesia, selective mourning and sacrifice surrounding poppy day – all too rare and worthy of spreading far and wide.

  2. Hi Dr Jackson

    I take your ICR Module and this issue means a lot to me – I subscribe to all your points on war. I found this post very emotive and thought provoking. I believe people should be able to wear any type of poppy without fear of being ostracised.

    However, I believe regardless of the colour of your poppy, it is your own interpretation of the symbol that counts. I do not see the Red Poppy as an icon that glorifies or justifies conflict, to me it represents my own beliefs about war and conflict. I acknowledge that the Red Poppy may have come to represent these (frankly ridiculous) delusions that war is justifiable and glorious, yet to me it represents my own feelings of gratitude and loss for the great men and women who could have prospered.

    Frankly, I believe we should have a multi-coloured poppy – a symbol that represents all the victims of war, regardless of their status in the conflict.

    Anyway, thats my thoughts – I really enjoyed this blog

  3. pete says:

    Great stuff. You hit some good points there. Thanks. You should say where people can get white poppies from. http://Www.ppu.org.UK

  4. Maureen Bezzant says:

    I have only just come across this website which explains clearly to me my own unomfortable feelings about the wearing of a red poppy – which I have always refused to do on the vague notion that it somehow glorifies war – but this is an increasingly difficult concept to explain to my poppy-wearing friends. I always note the date on which the first politician sports his (usually him) red poppy and think of the hypocrisy of these people who then send young people to fight in yet more wars. Also it seems to be obligatory for anyone who appears on any television programme (BBC in particular) to wear a red poppy. I have never seen a white one, nor have I heard any discussions on the subject. I am too much of a coward to wear a white poppy and have to explain my views inarticulatley – so I won’t wear one at all.


    • Maureen, if you visit the Peace Pledge Union website you will get a lot of information which explains the validity of wearing the white poppy. You can also order a white poppy there; it usually comes with a small flyer explaining the reasoning of the white poppy. I carry them with me and give them to people who question me. It explains things better than I sometimes can. You have to have the courage of your convictions. I usually find that once I start wearing one, lots of people ask me where they can get one. There are actually a lot more white poppy supporters out there than we know!

  5. Gareth says:

    Hey Richard,

    Good post. I strangely remember a few sniggers for wearing a red one because we “had” to wear one to be British; as a teenager that is. Things obviouly change as you get older and adopt more adult values, however, now my friends wear the poppy and choose not to, and I am unclear why I feel uncomfortable if had to wear one, too. I’d like to add that I am uncomfortable wearing any poppy including the white one, in part due to cowardice in the rememberance of being made fun of, but also because I feel I don’t need a poppy to symbolise my beliefs and respect for the war victims. I feel the white poppy could also be misperceived as a protest poppy to the red one, which then seeks to stamp an authority of moral hierarchy, too in the manner you described above aou the red one. I am not saying I disagree wih the morals it promotes, I am just thinking on my feet here to be convinved of wearing it really!

    • Good points, Gareth. Would it be so bad if the white poppy was a protest – if indeed our society has become militaristic? I see it as a way of getting people to question what they take for granted – that the military is good and to be supported no matter what. Could it be that there is an alternative to war and military violence? I am also of the opinion that it is not enough to want peace or talk about it; to actually get peace in the world, we have to work hard for it and struggle for it.

  6. Muzza182 says:

    I appreciate you want us to remember the innocent civilians who also lost their lives, in fact I completely agree. However, I don’t think you paint the picture very well about the soldiers who fought. You forget that if we hadn’t been at war, many more innocent civilians would have died, think of the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the second World War. Also you mustn’t forget that many soldiers were conscripts, and so when they refused, they were shot. It’s not been until very recently that these men have had their names cleared and been remembered too (this is also ridiculous that it took so long).
    So when you look at it that way, it was either, go over the trench, and hope to live, or refuse, and be executed. And you’re saying we should refuse to remember these men?

    • Thanks for your great comment. I’m not at all saying we shouldn’t remember military servicepeople. I saying why should we only remember them, and not those they killed or who died in the war? The white poppy, to my view, is an act of remembrance for the soldiers, the enemy soldiers and all the civilians – everyone who was a victim. The red poppy creates a hierarchy of victims, to my view. It says we need a special, exceptional symbol for one group of war victims; the others are excluded. I also worry that the kind remembrance that the red poppy is does not protect future conscripts and soldiers from suffering in war, but makes further war likely again. I think that working to prevent future wars by building peace honours those who suffered much more than preparing for another war by building a myth of military heroism.

      • Captain_Dg says:

        It seems to me that war is made likely by human nature and not by the color of a poppy. Slightly related I was thinking recently that the drive to purge humanity of the myth of military heroism has the unintended effect of creating a demand for such heroism in popular books, tv and video games. Now you may say, best that it be there and not in the world. But really, it remains in the world, and in human nature all the same. Only expressed where it can best avoid censorship.

    • “You forget that if we hadn’t been at war, many more innocent civilians would have died, think of the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the second World War.”

      What about the 7 million Ukrainians who died in the Holodomor? (Ukrainian Holocaust) Are some lives more special than others or are the education, media and entertainment industries selective about what they want the public to know? How many are familiar with Eisenhower’s death camps, the bombing of Dresdan, Germany, or the fact it was Judaea who declared war on Germany, and not the other way around?


      Since the 1960’s, Hollywood has spewed out over 300 films relating to the “Holocaust.” Guess how many have been made dealing with the genocides of Armenia, Tibet, USSR, Belgian Congo, Japan, Germany, Turkey, Cambodia, North Korea, Eteopia, Yugoslavia, Biafra, Rwanda and the native Indian? How many do you think we’ll see on more recent systematic exterminations in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  7. Sam Pope says:

    Firstly I apologise for potentially seeming ignorant.
    Whilst I agree with the concept outlined in concern to stimulating a debate on war and the negative aspects that it involves; as well as remembering all of those who unfortunately fall victim to the actions that ensue in a conflict situation. However, the monetary funds raised through the RBL’s annual poppy appeal are used in order to provide support to those who and disadvantaged through the outcomes of war.
    Whilst their efforts are primarily focused on those with a military connection, and not universal suffers of the consequences of conflict, it is still a measure of
    support that otherwise would not be provided. By all means I understand and agree with the need to have debates to better avoid such situations in the future, however what do the finances raised from white poppies do for those who are currently disadvantaged and in need of the types of limited support the RBL provides.
    Politics is all well and good, but potentially harming others through depriving them further surely is counterproductive. After all isn’t the whole concept of the white poppy to better alleviate the deprivation caused by conflict?

  8. Martin H-E says:

    The poppy is symbolic of sorrow and of loss which originates in the first world war. It does not in anyway glorify war.

    Those that went to war in the ‘great’ war of 1914-1918 were from a simple generation by modern standards. Many were ill-educated, ill-fed and ill-treated at home. Many joined up because it was a way out of poverty but also that they were pushed through the mincer by an oft-ignorant sense of national pride and a fear of being shamed by society at large for not joining up.They were, almost to a man, civilians in uniforms. Kitchener’s volunteers, inspired to join up by a curious mix of fear and adventure, walked slowly and orderly to their slaughter in their hundreds of thousands. In these people we find victims of war, indeed conscripted civilians in uniform are always victims of war. We will remember them.

    That the Poppy Appeal has generated millions of pounds, initially to help the civilian families of these Great War men, and later all families of any war, is a glowing endorsement of the campaign and a reason to back it by wearing a poppy. Indeed, it is men like these who bore the burden of subsequent conflicts including the Second War against fascism which meant the protection of the freedom of speech that you so clearly enjoy, has remained in tact. We will remember them.

    In the Summer of 2009 I made a pilgrimage to Flanders. I still have photographs of the poppies which pepper the grass in the fields outside the graveyard where my Great Uncle Will is interred. He died at 24, a coal miner’s son from the poverty riddled South Wales valleys. His life was essentially nasty, short and brutish. Financially abused by mine owners, he was conscripted to the army before being churned into the slaughter of Flanders. He was a victim of war Richard, not a perpetrator of it. I was the first member of our family to visit his grave. It took us 91 years to get our poppy to him but we got there, we never forgot our victim of war. We will remember them.

    Today, the poppy is as or more relevant than ever. Not only does the money raised from it help support my octogenarian Aunt in the twilight of her years (another Uncle, this time D-Day 1944) here in 2011, but also we are engaged in a battle of the poppy. Young men are dying in foreign fields once more, this time in a deadly battle to stem the poppy harvest in Afghanistan. Whether this is their primary mission, or indeed whether they are successful is largely irrelevant. What counts is that they will return home to their council estates (in a seat if they are lucky, in the cargo hold if they are not), with mental and physical injuries which will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The 300 registered heroin addicts in Aberystwyth alone may never thank these victims of war for their efforts, but I will by wearing my poppy. We will remember them.

    I sit here thinking about my childhood friend who now only has one leg, the other removed after horrific injuries inflicted by an IED in Helmand. His family, including his wife and three young children are the civilian victims or war that I can help. Through buying a poppy from the Royal British Legion I can ensure that his family, and thousands like them, will be looked after in some small way. I can’t help civilian victims or war across the world, but I can help those at home. And I will. By buying a poppy. We will remember them,

    Tomorrow at my weekly PTSD counseling session I will discuss the mental scars which continue to blight my life after my own service ‘peace keeping’. While some of us talk about civilian casualties of war, others of us have risked our own lives to help them with our own hands. When you criticise the poppy appeal, please remember not only do ‘we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm’ but also that not all soldiers are rough, but all do have families. I will wear my red poppy with pride this week. I will wear it with open tear-filled eyes and an open mind. We will remember them.

    • Thanks for your comment, Martin. Your suffering and that of your family is exactly why I am committed to peace. I don’t think anyone should have to go through that kind of suffering; I am committed to sparing the next generation from that horror, as I believe the original commemorative movement after WWI was. We don’t want another 100 million dead in war in the next hundred years too, particularly when the truth is that most wars are not fought for any noble reason or necessity, but for the lies and greed of politicians – who then refuse to pay for the care of those who suffer as a consequence. The poppy appeal, in one sense, allows those same policians to send the next generation to war, knowing that someone else will care for them when they return. Until we tell the truth about war and its consequences, we are doomed to endlessly repeat it. The white poppy honours our war dead by trying to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain, but actually helped to end the horror and crime against humanity that is war. War, like slavery and racial hatred, is not inevitable; we are not doomed to send every generation to kill and die. Like the case of slavery, if we work hard to end it, we can find other ways to settle conflict and create security.

  9. Maureen Bezzant says:

    I feel saddened to think that Martin H-E. thinks that I am denigrating the terrible sacrifice made by so many young men in past (and present) wars.
    It is not the men who walked to their deaths by their thousands, who “glorify” the act of war. In the first World War they were urged, shamed, encouraged, and compelled to join up and fight for the “glory” of their country, without any idea of what they were letting themselves in for – whilst those who urged them on (no doubt including the mine-owners) remained safe and sound at home. This is the hypocrisy

    This was very well brought out in Richard Attenborough’s brilliant film “Oh What a Lovely War!” (made in 1969 ) which shows the political manoeuvrings and power play of those who are in control of us lesser mortals and how people are led like lambs to the slaughter. The final scene which shows the fields and fields of white crosses will bring tears to all eyes. It is available on DVD on Amazon and I urge everyone to see this film as I don’t suppose it will ever be put out on television as it is too controversial.

  10. heffernan says:

    I just love the poignancy of the singing of “When this Lousy War is over” in that movie (Lovely War)

    For my favourite anti-war book, it has to be “Catch 22”

    And for song, I’ll go with “The Green Fields of France” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntt3wy-L8Ok

  11. Mr Mustard says:

    What a shame your white poppy still looks red… through your rose tinted glasses.

    When we arrive in that utopia where nobody needs to defend, fight or die for anything and there is no crime or aggression left in human nature, and we no longer feel an urge to support brave men and women who maintain peace and order throughout the world (most of them without EVER killing another human being) and co-operation between all nationalities, religions and ethnic divisions over land and resources becomes a thing of the past, forever….

    THEN I might consider wearing a white poppy.

    Or maybe no poppy at all?

    But for now, I prefer to “remember”…and wear my red poppy with pride.

    Which I’m sure you all accept and respect is everyone’s entitlement, no?

    • People used to think that a world without slavery was a utopia, until small groups of activists fought the prevailing culture and through long struggle to change laws and attitudes made it a reality. I believe that we are not helpless or doomed, but through struggle to change attitudes and structures, we can find a better way to solve conflict than through organised violence. The white poppy is simply a symbol of a belief in, and commitment to, a better way to solve conflict than killing. It also remembers the victims of war and works to prevent further victims, rather than accept war as inevitable and something noble.

      • Mr Mustard says:

        Sadly of course we still DON’T have a world without slavery.

        I just object to the assumption that all wearers of the red poppy are lumped together as doing so for one blunt reason, and worse still, that it’s misconstrued in some quarters as being symbolic of a viscerally pro-war attitude. That’s as arrogant as dismissing all white poppy wearers as lily livered conchies substituting a white flag of submission for a white flower – which is obviously NOT the case.

        I wear a red poppy to remember – and to signal my support for remembering – those terrified/brave/confused people who stood against tyranny in two World Wars. I’m sure most of them didn’t relish or want to kill other human beings. But until you’ve been in that horrific situation and have been painted into a corner by the history and circumstances of the times you find yourself born into, how can you know how you’d cope or react? They spilled their blood not through choice but as tiny cogs in the mighty wheels of history and I think that’s worth remembering with a blood red poppy once a year.

        They did not have the smug benefit of supposedly “civilised” hindsight.

        And as a further moral aside, force may not always be right, but to pretend it doesn’t sometimes “work” (at least in the short term) is naive to say the least. There are still some evil individuals and ideologies which will take advantage of those who refuse to confront them and whilst jaw jaw is always preferable to war war it cannot, alas, always be implemented. Turning the other cheek sounds noble in principle but in pragmatic terms is an invitation to another free hit from those who thumb their noses at “the rules” we’d all prefer to play by.

        Not all wars are justifiable but some (as a very last resort) have been I’m afraid. It’s for those wretched souls who found themselves bound up in them and having to fight that I wear the red poppy and remember. Yes, with regret – but also with thanks.

  12. Philip Jeays says:

    Might I use this thread for my own cheap self-promotion? I wrote a song on this subject, you can hear it here:

  13. tori says:

    one of the best blogs i have ever read. absolutely true!

  14. M Thompson says:


    The red poppy does not exist to glorify war. It exists to remember and honour those who had the courage to give their lives for the freedom of the society in which WE live. Although there are many victims of war surely it is right to remember especially, those who volunteriy put themselves into such an awful situation to ensure our security?

    The state sends soldiers, sailors and airmen out not just to carry out the will of the state but to protect society and the British way of life itself. As such society owes the a debt of gratitude not just the state. The RBL supports them and their families because everyone of us who chooses to live in the safety they provide owes them a debt of gratitude.

    Conflict is an unnavoidable part of life. Every society since the dawn of time has had to send forward people to gurantee its security. The security and safety of its people is a governments first and foremost duty. Sadly it is sometimes neccisary to engage in war to ensure this. War is a neccisary evil and those who execute it on on behalf of the government WE elect deserve our respect. I have no conception of what it is to take life but it sounds pretty awful. Surely we can respect those who are willing to put themselves through such a horrible experience on OUR behalf?

    The red poppy is not about forgetting the civillian casualties of war, it is not about glorifying war nor is it about forgetting the harsh realities of conflict. It is about remembering and honouring those who are willing not just to die on our behalf but to take the lives of those who would see our society and way of life destroyed.

    • Thanks for your comment. The point I would make is that a lot of what you say simply isn’t true, and the symbolism surrounding the red poppy simply reproduces these lies and obfuscations. War is not a necessary evil; it is a choice, often by lying, greedy politicians. How was the attack on Iraq a necessary evil? Or the Suez invasion, the Libyan bombing? It is simply not true that any of those places were trying to see British society destroyed; the wars were about Britain’s imperial ambitions. Should we never question the wars our leaders send our people out to fight? In many cases, like Iraq, the wars our leaders send people to fight in actually make us less safe and secure by making British civilians targets for terrorists and reprisals. The point I am simply making is that the red poppy asks us to accept without question all the wars our soldiers fight in, which is a way of preventing any and all criticism – which then allows the politicians to make more dubious wars. I am very happy to remember WWI and WWII, but most of the other wars since then have been for imperialism and sometimes for outright lies. This is the truth, and it needs to be discussed, not suppressed by myths that all wars in which soldiers fight are good and noble – and for our safety.

      • Aleksi R. says:

        There is certainly a need to discuss, question and criticize the actions and decisions of our governments, and to expose any corrupt or deceitful policies they engage with.

        Certainly not all wars waged by Britain have been “necessary evils” or even relevant to the security and liberty of the British society. Some of those wars, like Kosovo and Libya, while not necessary to defend Britain, were however certainly relevant to the security and liberty of the Kosovan and Libyan peoples. Some of those wars, like Iraq, have on the other hand been based on lies and caused only more grief and suffering to all sides.

        Still, remembering and supporting the soldiers ordered to fight a nation’s wars is different from supporting those wars. The soldiers pay the ultimate price of the nation’s decision to go to war, even when that decision is erroneous, and we who elect the leaders who send them to war are in part responsible for their sacrifices. The soldiers carry the scars, both physical and emotional, that result from our decisions, no matter the cause. Whether our decision to go to war has been right and just or not, it would bode well for us to respect those who we command to do the dying and the killing on our behalf and for our benefit.

        Shame on us if we command a man to kill and then deride him for it, or deny him the support he needs to recover from wounds sustained carrying out our orders. If we would properly remember the horrors our soldiers have been through, and respect the sacrifices they have made, we wouldn’t be so glad to send them to fight.

        So take your criticism of the politicians to the politicians, don’t let their corruption be a reason for not paying due respects to the ordinary men and women who have suffered the consequences of their decisions. They need to be remembered so we don’t repeat our mistakes.

  15. An interesting and thought provoking post Richard. Although I am still not totally opposed to the poppy appeal I have taken objection to many of this week’s furore surrounding footballers being allowed to wear the emblem. I especially object to the assumption that red poppies are somehow non-political.

    I hope you don’t mind but I have quoted your post on my blog http://inparticularorder.blogspot.com/2011/11/whats-with-poppys-appeal.html

    • Cameron and others also said the poppies were a sign of national pride – which is partly what I don’t like: military patriotism. Feel free to use the blog any where you like. I am speaking about this at a public forum tomorrow. It should be very interesting, and maybe quite fractuous!

  16. Mark Weatherby says:

    Mr Mustard: “I wear a red poppy to remember – and to signal my support for remembering – those terrified/brave/confused people who stood against tyranny in two World Wars.”

    I am not sure they stood against tyranny out of braveness and morals – they did it because if they didn’t they were executed by the British firing squad – they also took it upon themselves to shoot other nations soldiers that realised they were about to get slaughtered and chose not to go over the trenches.

    I sleep well at night because i believe in a functional society and not because our soldiers are providing this by fighting in Iraq for my freedom. I have nothing to give to the contemporary soldiers that choose to do this job – they are trained killers.My last encounter with a royal marine on leave who was 21. 10 years ago he was 11, i’m 38, so i asked why he joined the marines and why he thinks he went to afghanistan – there was nothing noble in his response ” to kill those paki muslims who thieve our benefits”.

    Thankfully, coming from a military family i am pleased to know that not all military personel have such idiots. However, through experience i have chosen to ignore the red poppy because for me it symbolises rasising money for a romanticised heroic era that just isn’t anymore. It is clearly a profession now that has a high price of death, along with poor treatment or acknowledgment of duty when you retire.

    I have everything to give for those poor buggers in both great wars that had no choice on BOTH sides and unfortunately all those civilians that died because they were there.I think people are getting confused about the white poppy being disrespectul, which is false. For me it is an all inclusive in addition to promoting more thinking about ways to avoid wars. I don’t see why this is a bad thing – it might not be always achievable, but at least it doesn’t have the attitude of “war is bad, people died, let’s remember, and oh, if another war happens, we’ll remember more people”… remember, britain and culture is invented and I am sure David cameron or any stranger on the street would behind close doors wiould happily send you on your way because they won’t take a bullet for you being a good british citizen!

    Enough ranting – i just saw cameron on TV and he made me mad – clearly I am not a tory supporter!

  17. Aleksi R. says:

    You don’t think this nation, or any other, owes a debt of gratitude to those men and women it has sent to die and get maimed on its behalf? All victims of war deserve to be remembered, and should be, but is there not a difference between those who voluntarily risk life and limb on behalf of others – whether they are firemen, police officers, Red Cross medics in conflict zones or indeed soldiers – and those who do not?

    Should New York not give special consideration to the firemen who gave their lives or their health helping others on 9/11 even as it remembers all the victims of that day? Should we not give special consideration to those who have fought and perished on our behalf even as we remember all the victims of war, civilian and soldier alike? If we would truly understand the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve us, we should be far less willing to send them into war in the first place.

    Remembering and honoring the men who stood in the trenches in 1918, took to the skies to defend Britain’s cities in 1940, stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944, or hunted down al Qaeda fighters in Tora Bora, does not and should not diminish our remembrance of the victims of the Blitz, Dresden or 7/7, or vice versa. We can do both.

    Remembering the civilian victims of war may well deserve its own, separate occasion. It need not be away from wearing the ‘red poppy’ or from commemorating the fallen soldiers. We can have an occasion for wearing the ‘white poppy’ entirely independent of the ‘red poppy’, it need not be a choice of either-or.

  18. Pingback: Red poppies and Leagues of Nations | The American Exception

  19. Anum says:

    What if we wear both? The red and the white? To commemorate the fallen, but to also signify support for moving away from a culture of violence. My reasoning is this: I truly believe we do a disservice to the memory of veterans just by saying, “lest we forget”. It is an insignificant phrase, when we keep fighting illegitimate wars and cutting many, many lives short. We do not have any respect for our veterans (just look at the U.S., one of the most pro-military countries in the world, where nearly 1/5th of the homeless population is made up of veterans); today, governments are simply using soldiers as tools for their twisted agenda’s, and justifying their deaths as “necessary” for our “freedom”. We also do a disservice to the civilians killed – the nameless and the faceless who did not sign up for the consequences of war. How do you tell two young parents that their child was killed in crossfire while walking to school for the “greater good”? Politicians wearing red poppies today do not have to answer any real questions, simply wearing a poppy means they’re showing “their respect”. True respect is when you answer those tough questions, and answer why those soldiers and civilians had to die. And why are they allowed to keep dying? The truth is, many of us know that they did not have to. There is no honour in carnage, especially when a few profit immensely from it, and the rest are treated as slaughter goats.

  20. Abby says:

    Thank you for essentially summing up my opinion on the poppy with much more eloquence than I could have managed.

  21. Mr Moo says:

    Through my father, who fought briefly in the second world war, I came to learn the views of my grandfathers; The vast majority of military personnel are cannon fodder for sociopathic warmongers with little regard for the suffering of victims. International bankers love war, because they fund both sides while enriching themselves. Perhaps they made the red poppy the public symbol it has become.

    I think it rediculous to wear this symbol whilst concealing a private understanding. This projects a disingenuous public image and does less for the strong countervailing opinion. Get a white poppy Ollie Dunckley!

  22. Anum says:

    For those not comfortable with wearing either the red or white poppy, this button by the Mennonite Central Committee is a good alternative: https://resources.mcc.org/content/peace-buttons

  23. Dougscot says:

    It is easy for me to concede that it is an old lie “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” I have been privileged to grow up in a country where I did not have to participate in military service. I have not witnessed the horrors of war firsthand. I enjoy freedom of speech in a way that is not available to many in different countries around the globe. This has only been made possible through the ultimate sacrifice of countless individuals who were prepared to take part in actions which I would prefer not to know about. I owe them a debt which I can never repay. The annual poppy appeal gives me an opportunity to acknowledge what I owe to others unknown to me. I do not consider it in any way as a glorification of war. World War 1 was supposedly the war to end all wars and I see wearing the red poppy as a way of keeping faith with those who died so that they may sleep.

  24. Jason Ralph says:

    Thanks for this Richard. Like all good critical scholarship it has made me question my actions and why the red poppy has decorated my coat this week. I understand and share your concerns but I don’t think the red poppy acts ‘to hide the truth and obscure reality’. I guess I came to the conclusion that it is more significant to restore, revive, defend, explain (take your pick) the cosmopolitan meaning of the red poppy rather than to give up on it. There are after all dangers in letting such a potent symbol slip into the hands of those who would happily use it to promote the kind of moral and national hierarchies that you and I oppose.

    You are right to remind us that if we wear the red poppy we should never forget the civilian casualties in war. But the two are not mutually exclusive. Recalling what is, occasionally, the tragic fate of the individual soldier (in particular the conscript) does not mean we care less about civilians. Civilians, I’d argue, are much better protected by a categorical insistence that soldiers are held accountable to international humanitarian law. If the red poppy in any way excused and celebrated the politician that took us into an unjust war, or if it in any way excused and celebrated the soldier that committed war crimes, then I would refuse to wear it. But it does not do that; nor should it ever be allowed to do that.

    For me the red poppy commemorates loss. It does not, and it should not, reinforce moral or national hierarchies. It reminds us of the waste of war and it does not glorify violence. It reminds us that wars are never “won”. Everyone that takes part somehow loses. Peace might arrive but we’re never victorious. It exposes as utopian the ‘realist’ idea that military superiority will lead to peace and it reinforces the progressive insistence that there must be another way. That’s why I’ve been wearing the red poppy.

    • Thanks for your comment Jason. I never heard a comment about the waste of war in relation to the red poppy, nor that it also commemorated the civilian dead. I only seem to hear that it is for ‘the glorious dead’, those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, the heroes who died for us, etc. These are all a kind of collective memorialisation based on mostly on untruth and suppression of reality (the dead of the Iraq war, for example, or Suez, did not die for our freedom but for a pack of lies), and they function collectively to make war seem tragic but necessary/heroic/sacirifcial/etc. I would make a distinction between the personal reasons someone might wear a red poppy, and the collective functioning of the poppy wearing in the context of a whole series of narratives and rituals which turn war not into ‘waste’, but somehow tragically heroic. And while civilians might have certain protections in war, soldiers also have rights in war that go beyond anything civilians have (the right to legally kill and maim). But this is not the point, anyway: if the UK had the names of the civilian dead on the memorials next to the soldiers, and if the civilian dead were remembered equally, this might help to deflate the myth of military heroism and the special place that military personnel are held in – which is part of a broader set of narratives which maintains war as an institution in society. The point is: if the red poppy and all the ceremonies that go with really did confront the horror and waste of war, and if they were used to commemorate in order to save future generations from war (in my view, the original meaning of the poppy), and if they were used to hold politicians to account for their waste of human life – then I would feel more comfortable with it. But I never get this feeling from all the poppy wearing and ceremonies at this time of year; my feeling is always one of militarised patriotism in which we celebrate the military.

  25. Thanks for a great blog, Richard; you have stimulated an important discussion.

    I confess I had not thought through all the implications of wearing the red poppy and having read all these posts I think I would now be inclined to wear both a red and a white one to make the point. When I put my red poppy in my buttonhole it is always with sadness, rather than pride; for me it is a way of acknowledging the futility and the horror of war. I have the same feeling attending or watching services of remembrance; for me it is not about victory, just sacrifice.

    Of course, it is only comparatively recently that the numbers of civilians killed in armed conflict have outstripped the numbers of soldiers; at the time of the First World War most of the dead were soldiers, so it was indeed appropriate that they should be the focus of our remembrance. In recognition of how things have changed there is now a memorial outside Westminster Abbey to all the civilian victims of conflict – opened by The Queen a few years back. Perhaps we should organise a national service of remembrance to them as well; not in competition to what happens on Remembrance Day but as an ever more necessary reminder of the human cost of war. Maybe that would help to bring an end to pointless wars.

  26. For more interesting comment on the red poppy, see http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/15705 and http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/reimagining_remembrance. What is most interesting is that surveys show that most people would prefer a broader form of remembrance that also included civilians.

  27. frankos says:

    The red poppy and the two minute silence focus the wearers mind on all aspects of war –not just the soldiers those who fought them,
    I have deep respect for the soldiers and civilians and animals who have fought in all the conflicts of the 20th and 21st century.
    The white poppy is irrelevant to most of us and seems to be merely a political device used to draw attention from the much more popular red poppy.
    Please don’t use simplistic and niave politics to disrespect such an important day of national rememberance.
    War is an occassional evil which will never be eradicated–the red poppy is it’s conscience.

  28. Curtis K says:

    Self-satisfied, self-righteous article which, like the white poppy, detracts from the only message conveyed by the remembrance day: remembrance of those who were sacrificed for our freedom.

    • Do you consider Suez, Aden, and Iraq sacrifice for our freedom and not sacrifice for imperial ambition or national self-interest? You need to do some research or take an international relations course. You’ll see that politicians almost never send take the country to war to protect our freedom. That is so much lies and obfuscation. Are we to pretend that the sacrifices were ‘for our freedom’, even when they are patently not? Aren’t we then just participating in collective self-deception?

      • Subvert says:

        A bit late to the conversation, but just quick point: Dr. Jackson, you are a New Zealander and not British, correct? Given that memory of a war’s dead is inextricably tied up with one’s (usually national) identity, then why should anyone care about your criticism of the red poppy? And what gives you the right to use the word “our” when referring to British feelings and British ideas? Let British people come to their own conclusions about their own traditions, especially when it comes to their own dead.

      • Actually, I am a dual citizen of Britain and New Zealand. My father is British, and my grandfather was an ambulance driver during the blitz. My grandmother was in a house that was bombed by the Germans but survived. You might also note that New Zealanders also wear the red poppy and celebrate remembrance day, and that they fought with the British in many wars. My New Zealand grandfather was in the North African campaign during world war II. I do therefore feel able to speak about ‘our’ society and its remembrance practices.

      • sionscone says:

        I think it’s you that needs to do your research.

        Why choose minor conflicts for your justification? Fewer than 400 Brits died across the three. I don’t want to detract from their sacrifice, but those people *did* die and *did* sacrifice their lives. The soldier on the ground does not have the choice to question the bigger picture. They do as they are told; in WW1, many were shot as cowards / deserters for refusing orders. People who sign up for a noble cause (Aden can easily be viewed as a defensive action) can just as easily find themselves in a situation where their personal ideals do not match those of the country.

        Do you still stand by your comments when confronted by the ~1.5 million deaths in WW1 & WW2? Do you think that those conflicts were pure imperial ambition? To classify either as pure “national self-interest” shows a complete ignorance of how international politics works; both were due to honouring treaties in the face of aggression.

        Are you aware of the origin of wearing poppies? When ex-service personnel were not given the support they needed, it was a clear show of support from the public that kept them going. It’s a tiny, tiny way for us to give back and show our appreciation for people who risk their lives, were injured, mentally scarred or lost family etc. It’s a dirty job and someone has to do it.

        Others have done a more eloquent job than I could at confronting your misguided opinions about the poppy. It should be clear from reading the array of responses that the poppy means different things to different people, but very rarely does any of it match your opinions.

        Finally; feel free to wear a white poppy, or no poppy at all. That’s entirely your choice. My grandfather served in WW2 and never wore a poppy – he thought that ex-servicemen, widows and orphaned children should not have to beg for charity – but he still donated. I wear a poppy and donate. That is my choice. Fortunately, we are allowed to choose because our forefathers gave their lives to prevent us being invaded by a dictatorship responsible for genocide. I’m grateful for that, and wear my poppy with reverence.

  29. Reblogged this on richardjacksonterrorismblog and commented:

    We are once again in the season in New Zealand and Australia where all public figures are required to wear a red poppy on television, where rugby matches hold a ceremony of remembrance before the game and a massive red poppy is painted on the field of play so it is never out of the viewer’s sight. It is also the season where commentators openly state on public radio that wearing the white poppy is akin to wearing the white feather, and is a sign of disloyalty and disrespect – and that war is inevitable and necessary, and we should be grateful to the soldiers who have to fight them. It is the season where we are encouraged to never question the reasons for going to war, but just accept it as necessary and noble. For this reason, and to try and stimulate a little more debate and reflection about what we are doing and why we do it, it seems appropriate to re-post this blog.

  30. Great blog Richard. If any of your followers in NZ are looking for white poppies here, check out http://www.whitepoppies.org.nz – bit late for ANZAC Day this year though! The poppies are available all year round however, all proceeds go to the White Poppy Peace Scholarships

  31. benreillyuk says:

    There is glory in war and bravery. However there is also suffering. The red poppy honours that suffering.

  32. “The truth is that war is cruel, bloody, and inglorious, and that the soldiers we remember are there to kill and maim fellow human beings, and to die screaming for their mothers.”

    Which is precisely why the blood red poppy was chosen instead of any of the other colours that poppy flowers appear as.


  33. andy savak says:

    This needs to be passed on. . .was not aware of the story of the red poppy. . Nor the meaning of the white poppy. . .

  34. andy savak says:

    The high casualties need to be brought out. . .totals on both sides total over a million and a half for the four days at verdune. . .and this was man to man trench to trench. . .mustard gas. .

  35. ray says:

    the soldiers too were victims of unwanted war

  36. Liam says:

    Living in Northern Ireland the red poppy is entirely worn by the Protestant/Loyalist community and is believed by many to be an underhand way to assert Ulsters “Britishness”. I consider myself Irish, because the island i live on is called Ireland. My grandfather fought in the 2nd World War and he was one of thousands of Irishmen (not Britishmen) who played their part. Poppy day in NI has been claimed by Unionists as theirs and theirs alone. Irish/Catholics are not really expected to wear one even though it would be just as valid to do so. My place of employment permits no wearing of any badges or emblems on our uniform in the workplace…. Except the red poppy. This has become a major issue for many who see it as contentious and unnecessary. We work in a public service and given that NI is now almost a 50/50 religiously divided nation its simply not in good taste to wear a symbol which (here) signifies an outward display of onesidedness. I will be wearing a white poppy, not because i feel i have some elevated point to make (like our red poppy wearers here), but to urge debate. I have never seen a white poppy in NI. I wore mine last year and got some pretty strange looks from a few neanderthals. Anyone who asked what the white one was for i replied simply “look it up online”. These days the great God Google means no one should not know the answer to a question. Some of us like to baa like sheep, some of us choose an alternative. Every so often we hear in the UK that one or two British soldiers have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, but how often do we hear of the 100s of thousands they have caused to die out there? Even with Google its hard to find how many men, women, children, and babies the “allies” have slaughtered (last conservative count i read was 650,000 – 1million). So yeah, wear your red poppy with pride. And youre right, some of us will remember them, but in a slightly different way. A child whos father has been blown to bits has the same shock to me no matter who they are or where they come from. A mother wailing in Iraq for their innocent husband whos just been shot dead by the British is just as important to consider as Trevor from Birmingham (or where ever) killed in a roadside bomb while in a country which isnt his. All need considered in the horror of war…. Not just your blinkered chosen few.

  37. Anthony says:

    I think the red poppy helps you remember all soldiers who have died on all sides get a life

  38. Jackie Stockdale says:

    Thank you Richard for putting everything I think on this issue so brilliantly. Although I must leave some praise for Anthony’s deep and well informed, thought-provoking and eloquent contribution to this debate. What you say is so utterly profound that it will stay with me forever.

    • I’m glad you like the post. I feel a bit removed from the whole issue this year. Almost no one wears a poppy around this time, and there are few public ceremonies. In New Zealand, most of the remembrance events occurs around ANZAC Day. I’m glad about this in a way, because I always felt uncomfortable when 9 out of 10 people walked past me with a red poppy and every single person on TV had one.

  39. I’m not politically-minded, and don’t know what the answer is; but war is not it.

    A symbol that represents global peace can only be a positive thing. How many resources go into war, which could be used to benefit our world? The quest for peace doesn’t just affect humans; the biodiversity, history, ecology and archaeology of our planet are at stake, we’ve only got one…

    There is also a purple poppy to commemorate the loss of lives of animals in war; I’d be happy wearing a white one, a purple one and any other colour that made people think about the global cost of war.

  40. Reblogged this on Purple Moods and commented:
    Thought provoking blog and certainly one that rings very true.

  41. Wendy wright says:

    Thanks for your words, I’ve reposted to hopefully make a difference?

  42. Thank you for writing so eloquently . It is everything I want to say, want people to hear in perfect format.

  43. Davina says:

    Excellent piece. The most recent so called wars are nothing but a drive for empire building. I cannot wear a poppy because it does not honour all the poor souls, just a select few which is exactly what the nazi’s did and I have no wish to follow in their footsteps to demonise other people so that it is easier to to take control of their country and kill them.

  44. Rosy Williams says:

    Dear Richard,

    I have recently become interested in the white poppy movement, having not heard of it previously. I am a professional musician and last night was performing in a huge concert in the Liverpool arena to around 15000 people. There were 150 musicians on stage and we were all forced to wear red poppies. I caused a bit of a stink by wearing a white one… I’ve since posted something on Facebook and added a a link to your blog. I now realise I probably should have asked you first. It’s started a bit of a debate though so I’d like to leave it up. Are you happy for me to do so? Perhaps I’ll see you on Facebook- I’m Rosy Williams and I think my unique ID Is rosywilliams.9 or something like that.

    Thanks for teaching me about the white poppy.

    Rosy Williams

  45. Pingback: My Last Remembrance Day Service | PlatosCave

  46. Ken Gilchrist says:

    I have always worn the red poppy as a symbol of remembering the sacrifices of war suffered by the military. I must admit I have never given their friends and families a thought about how they suffer. After reading your article I am seriously thinking about wearing a white poppy.

  47. Pingback: On Remembrance Sunday… What Should We Remember? | Without Writing

  48. llovell says:

    Thankyou for this.

    The whole; “they fought for your freedom so shut up, stop thinking for yourself, and do as we tell you!” bit always tripped me up, too.

  49. llovell says:

    I think it says a lot about what the red poppy really stands for in that I personally would be afraid of making myself a target of violence should I be seen wearing a white one.

    I’ve thought every year about wearing a feather (not having heard about white poppies), and every year I’ve chickened out because the righteous nationalist fervour incited by the poppy propaganda seems to heartily encourage violence and tribalism. Whether that was the intention or not, whether that is what every individual thinks or not, it is happening.

    Last year I saw a peice of art with no artist commentary, of a burning poppy. You could take that any way you choose really, depending on your perspective. The public chose to see it as an insult and the remarks were seething with hate and literal threats of violence. Demands that people who disrespect the poppy should be lined up and shot.

    Where exactly does the “freedom” part come in, if people who don’t think the exact same way as us should be executed for thought crimes?

    I think that if people want to be able to wear the red poppy in a positive way they need to take much more responsiblity for eradicating the very real problems with it.

  50. Excellent piece. I think both poppies have their place.

  51. Angered soldier says:

    The fact that you have bastardized the Red Poppy; let alone the poppy itself, is disgraceful. You have the right to speak your mind….but going to the extent of creating and selling poppies of that nature, is unpatriotic and despicable.

    I’m stead of putting on a White Poppy, how about you do something for the nation other than disgrace us and spout out bull shit!

  52. Bob M says:

    Bunch of fairies. Grow a brain and show some respect

  53. Mr Cameron says:

    Does Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement ring a bell? When we try the peaceful approach with people like Hitler they will exploit it and then make everyone suffer for it. To think that something like war will never one day exist? Absurd it will exist as long as everyone has different goals, wants and needs and opinions. Even if this dream comes true you will always have one group who will oppose it and fight against it. Maybe I am wrong and there is a way though I don’t think everyone saying “No more war” can fix this. What would we be expected to do if we had someone trying to take over nations or the world?

  54. Mr Cameron says:

    llovell the only reason you can share your opinion is because many of the people that poppy represent died for the freedoms you enjoy so much today, Maybe people think those who disrespect it should be lined up and shot because those people would most likely would have never been born and if they were: they wouldn’t be able to even say something that Hitler’s regime didn’t like and would be lined up and shot.

    You may have your opinion but I feel you must be one insufferable chap.

  55. Hi Dr Jackson, I commented on this blog ages back with my thoughts – All of a sudden it popped back into my head so I revisited!

    My feelings are very much the same, but now I have become much more disillusioned by the way remembrance day is celebrated by many people in the UK – What upsets me most is seeing the presence of weapons on remembrance sunday – I think this undermines the cause that men and women have fought and died for (to bring an end to wars). Needless to say I don’t feel the red poppy represents my beliefs anymore – Next year I will be sporting my own multicoloured poppy and I’ll make a donation to a organisation that I feel sufficiently works towards stopping wars and conflict!

    Hope all is well


  56. Shane says:

    A brilliant, superbly written, article with all the points elucidated to good purpose. It sums up what I have always thought.

  57. Historian says:

    I used to wear a red poppy, when I didn’t know any better. I lost relatives in both world wars and felt there was nothing wrong in showing respect to and remembrance of their sacrifice. However, my attitude has hardened in recent years in the face of a conscious effort by politicians to equate the world wars with, in particular, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: the institution of Veterans’ Day and Armed Forces Day, for example, in which veterans, most of them conscripts, by definition, were invited to stand side by side with today’s regular, volunteer servicemen and women, supporting the line that today’s post-imperial conflicts, fought to keep in with the USA and to divert public attention from domestic problems, were somehow equivalent to the great wars ostensibly fought ‘for freedom’, the glib cliche parroted by some of the commenters here (the First World War was fought fundamentally not to save Britain but to defend its empire against German ambitions, ie. in support of commerce; the Second because Germany was allowed to grow militarily to protect Western Europe against communism, tacitly supported with military equipment and expertise in breach of the Versailles Treaty – the Me109 fighter, for example, the RAF’s principal opponent in the Battle of Britain, first flew with a Rolls-Royce engine – and encouraged to believe, until Munich, that its territorial ambitions, now directed east rather than outward to the developing world, as in the previous conflict – would be supported by Western powers which shared Germany’s hatred and fear of Russia). In a country increasingly addicted to national shows of solidarity – always dangerous to liberty – we can no longer separate the public act of remembrance of the soldiers of the past from an endorsement of the military of today. Service people today are not fighting to save their country; even the head of the intelligence services, hardly a raving pinko, went on record to say that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put the public at home at greater risk from terrorist attack than they were before. I’ve known a few members of today’s professional and essential mercenary armed forces and they joined for fun, excitement, travel and the prospect of a career and perhaps a trade they could later carry on in civvy street. One ‘Falklands Hero’ I was at school with ended up in prison for his part in a gang rape. Their oath of loyalty is to the monarchy, not to the nation or the constitution. I’m not a pacifist, but the existence of standing armies promotes rather than prevents war, because having thousands of highly trained, eager young men and women at 24 hours’ notice to go and kill foreigners for you is a temptation politicians (think of Tony Blair) find it impossible to resist. Time and again, interviewed on TV at airports as they wait to go overseas, I’ve heard servicemen say they’re keen to go ‘because it’s what we’ve trained for’. They’re not interested in preserving the peace; if you haven’t been in a war, you haven’t really done the job properly. I prefer the idea of a militia, made up of citizens with a real stake in society whose loyalty is to other civilians, not to the exclusive military caste of which professional service people are members: but no British government would arm its own citizens en masse, for fear of the consequences. Though it’s telling that the wars started by the regular armed forces with such bland assurances of success have quickly become disasters which only mass conscription and original thinking from civilians could redeem. Thanks for a post which as well as being eloquent and well-informed has revealed the intellectual shallowness and bigotry of those who, by reflexively venerating the military, help to ensure they’ll be kept busy for a good few generations yet.

  58. Taz says:

    I actually wore both a white one, and a red one, at church today. Churchgoers tend to eye a white poppy with mistrust and distaste, so I wear both in an effort to disarm them.

  59. Mat Hayward says:

    Wonderful narrative.

  60. Adam adamson says:

    you daft arse

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