Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I'm glad a sensible compromise has been reached to allow the England football team to display poppies, but some of the language used along the way has been monumentally silly. David Cameron, for instance, described FIFA's original decision as "outrageous". Really? FIFA have done many things recently that could reasonably be described as "outrageous", but I'm not sure that insisting upon a rule that everyone knew about in advance is one of them. "Over-zealous" would perhaps be a better description - which coincidentally is also an apt characterisation of the attitude of so many to the poppy tradition. We've grown up to have such reverence for the poppy and what it symbolises that we lose all sense of perspective sometimes. The worst example of that was when the Royal British Legion criticised Mary McAleese for failing to wear a poppy during her inauguration as Irish President in 1997. Now, why should a demand for an Irish official to display a symbol associated with the UK be regarded as anything other than risible? And yet because it was a poppy, that seemed to trump everything - including common sense, realism and sensitivity to the traditions of a different nation.