Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poppy zealotry

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.


  1. Like everything in the UK politicians will grab any emblem to give them media coverage rather than for the right reasons. Don't buy or wear poppies as what it signifies is the waste of human life in ww1 for dubious reasons the lessons of which we have never learned.

  2. Over the years the poppy emblem has grown to be British fetish.

    The further we get from the origin of the poppy symbol which was to remember the dead of the Great War the more it has become imbued with a feverish tabloid patriotic fervour.

    Despite the fact that both of the last two generations of my family fought in the last two world wars and the local war memorials have a depressing litany of local names and even though my father and my father-in-law who both saw active service in the second world war wore their poppies to the occasional Remembrance Service I've never seen such hysteria about the wearing of the poppy as I see today.

    It's actually put me off the whole business.

  3. I served 12 years in the forces.

    I do not begrudge the old vets. from wearing the poppy.

    Myself, I would never be seen wearing one. The way our returned servicemen are treated by our government is nothing short of "outrageous".

    It makes me sick to see some of these people squablle and try to outdo each other as to who is the most patriotic or remorseful.

    Most of them (especially the pollies) would never dream of putting themselves in harms way for the country.

    The are a bunch of sanctimonios parisites.

  4. I noted that at the same time as Cameron was slating FIFA for their original decision, the MoD was busy cutting money from a couple of military charities. Respect?

    Mr Cameron presumably hoped that the tabloids will do their usual enthusiastic job of whipping up a fever of hate for a "foreign" organisation for showing disrespect to British military. In order to assure his success in this matter, he roped in poor wee Willie of Cambridge.

    Now among the unthinking, the English prime minister will be able to boast that he showed Johnny Foreigner a thing or two about respect for British troops and all the while he was cutting, even further, our financial support for them.

    He really is the most despicable nob.