Red Poppies and the Politicians Who Use Them

Most members of the working-class are opposed to war. In Britain, many of these same people choose to wear red poppies to commemorate Remembrance Day, while a smaller number prefer to sport the white version.

Royal British Legion historian Chris McNab says that the red poppy “is not jingoistic…, but instead compels entire nations to stop and reflect upon the human cost of war, both to themselves and to their former enemies.”

Who could disagree that reflecting upon the human devastation wrought by war is an important first step towards working to prevent war. I say this because after First World War interest in the poppy “could have gradually withered on the vine as time marched on and interest waned”; but instead, as Chris points out, “an even larger world war kept the idea of remembrance utterly relevant, as did Britain’s numerous post-war conflicts.”

Unfortunately, unaccountable, ruling-class politicians are entirely reliant upon jingoism to persuade the British public to accept their ongoing plans for war. On this score the mainstream media helps politicians greatly in their warmongering by letting them flood the media with manipulative pro-war propaganda at critical historical moments.

Enthusiasm for wars usually melts away once the relentless pro-war spin abates; but not so for the politicians who work so hard to sell us such wars. For the sanctity of the dead, such politicians should be questioned if they choose to wear red poppies? It is they who are politicising the poppy by using it as a cynical means of deflecting attention from their records of warmongering.

Politicians with a history of opposing needless wars, like Jeremy Corbyn, can of course continue to wear their red poppies with pride, but the same should not be true for those who support global bloodbaths.

Needless to say Tory politicians seem to have a natural proclivity for war, as do Blairite MPs within the Labour Party, despite the principled anti-war credentials of the new leader of their party.


Just before last Christmas these Blairites voted backed airstrikes in Syria. While last week the same motley crew refused to support a Labour Party motion which called upon the Government to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia while the United Nations investigates the Saudi-led coalition’s “alleged violations of international humanitarian law in the conflict in Yemen”.

Certainly one should question the honesty of all politicians, of whatever political stripe, who continue to wear a red poppy while turning a blind eye to the slaughter of civilians. Little wonder that many people who find war abhorrent prefer to wear a white poppy.


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