The annual rant about poppies

November has begun, which means the official commencement of the annual season for opinion articles about poppies. Although like Christmas, poppy-shaming has been starting earlier and earlier every year. Poppy shaming now starts so early that it has managed to go back in time and now starts before the actual start of WWI in 1914. This has caused a rupture in the space-time continuum and led to a paradoxical universe where sense and reason have broken down and we get ridiculous outcomes like Boris Johnson becoming Foreign Secretary and Liam Fox’s political career being rehabilitated. But they wear their poppies with pride.

Sense and reason has already broken down with the poppy fetish. What started as an emblem of mourning, a national outpouring of remembrance that war is destructive, meaningless and wracked with pain and grief, has over the years been coopted into a symbol of nationalistic glorification of the military. It’s become a recruiting tool for the armed forces and it gets painted on warplanes. That’s a bit like painting a peace symbol on a live nuclear warhead and claiming it represents CND. Oversized poppies are waved by children in army recruiting adverts while they wear t-shirts bearing the legend future cannon-fodder. It’s no longer a symbol of the horrors of war, it’s a symbol to glorify the militarism that breeds wars. The symbol that once spoke for the generation that fought the war to end all wars is now a symbol to attract young people into the army. Poppies have been hopelessly coopted by an establishment which reserves to itself the right to have another war if it thinks it’s in its interests.

Poppies have long since lost touch with their original meaning, but this year we’ve reached peak tastelessness with the poppy fetish. You can now buy a poppy crafted out of genuine First World War shell cases. Commemorate your ancestor’s life with a little part of the bombs that blew him to buggery for bugger all. Remember the dead with the implements of their destruction. It’s like commemorating the Holocaust with jewellery made from cannisters of poison gas, or selling little miniature hammers lovingly crafted out of Peter Sutcliffe’s weapon of choice in order to raise money for a women’s refuge. Inappropriate doesn’t even begin to describe it. Wear your WWI shell poppy, and you’re wearing on your lapel a little piece of something that maimed and killed.

The reality for ex-servicepeople in this land of the poppy fetish was described in the House of Commons on Wednesday by Jeremy Corbyn. Ex-serviceman David Clapson died alone without any food in his home after being sanctioned by the Job Centre. He died without food in his stomach alone in the dark after his benefit was stopped because he’d missed a meeting at the job centre. As a diabetic his life depended on ensuring that his diet was carefully regulated, that the insulin upon which he depended was kept refrigerated. All the poppy pride in the world won’t put food in your stomach. It won’t provide a decent job or standard of living. It won’t ensure dignity for the living, and it certainly won’t ensure that we end wars.

The tragic tale of David Clapson isn’t an isolated instance. Thousands of former service people are in crisis. Thousands depend on charities which are increasingly forced to supply those basic needs that the state is no longer willing to meet. That same state that’s happy to put on military parades so politicians can bask in reflected glory, covering themselves in pride like a fake tan while they preside over a system which has institutionalised petty cruelty and punishment, which condemns hundreds of thousands, both those who’ve served in the forces and those who have not, to a marginal life of desperation dependent on the whims of assessors who don’t assess compassion or care.

According to a report published a couple of years ago by the homelessness charity Crisis, one in ten of those who are forced to sleep rough in doorways and alleyways are former service people. Britain glorifies its military with parades, with flags, with poppies, but it won’t give former service people what they need in order to maintain a basic level of dignity. They are forced to rely on charity handouts. Once they’ve left the services they’re all too often cast adrift in a benefits system that’s more capricious and cruel than a bullying sergeant and they end up dying, starving and alone in the dark, sacrificed by an uncaring state that claims it always commemorates their sacrifice.

We can commemorate the dead and honour the sacrifice of those who died in order to protect this country that’s becoming ever more cruel, and ever more lacking in care. A country where compassion is a weakness and empathy is a sin. A country which refuses to accept responsibility for the damage that it wreaks and the suffering that it causes as it turns away refugees and demands that they open their mouths so that their teeth can be examined.

The truth is that if the sacrifice of the dead means anything it should mean that we remember that they fought and died in the hope that the world would become a better place, a kinder place, a place where compassion and love are prized above a military parade.

But it’s easy to commemorate the dead, unlike the living they don’t cost money and don’t make demands on your social security system. The dead don’t need houses or food on their tables. They don’t need jobs, they don’t need medical care, they don’t need emotional support. Dignity comes cheap when you’re dead. But best of all you can hang any message you like on the dead because they can no longer speak for themselves. You can take the symbol created by those who fought the war to end all wars and you can use it to recruit new soldiers who can fight and die in new wars. And then you can claim that you’re honouring the sacrifice of those who are no longer with us.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-2nd-nov-2016

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69 comments on “The annual rant about poppies

  1. Steve Bowers says:

    The brutal reality, well put Paul, very well put

    • Alasdair Macdonald says:

      I was speaking to someone about the film, “I, Daniel Blake”, and it was condescendingly dismissed as ‘virtue signalling’. David Clapson is one of the hundreds of thousands of Daniel Blakes who are in dire straits because of the actions of Westminster. But, of course, Paul’s moving account – moving in its stark, factual simplicity – will receive the same ‘virtue signalling’ dismissal from the same sources.
      But, when these sneerers sport their “mandatory” poppy, are they, too, not virtue signalling? Of course, it is different “virtues” of jingoism, xenophobia, militarism, BRITISHNESS!!! that are being signalled. Mr Clapson, clad in his military uniform and stripped of any David Clapson identity as an individual, and anonymised as “one of our boys” is a symbol of those virtues whom the poppy now represents. But, David Clapson, clad in clothes like the rest of us, trying to work to put food on the table and put a roof over his head, and struggle against his diabetes, is a skiver and a scrounger, and, of course, he brought the diabetes on himself by overeating on fast foods. And that sentence classes me as a bleeding heart signalling my virtue.
      My father was a soldier for the entire Second World War, and saw action at El Alamein. He was wounded, fortunately making a full recovery. He was proud of his service. But, he refused to wear the poppy because he saw it for the badge of oppression that it had become. It was not for remembrance to prompt us to end war, but a celebration of militarism, and he had had enough of that.

  2. scrandoonyeah says:

    You just touched my soul…. for all the forgotten and betrayed and for all the desolate left behind in this land pf inequality

    • john57 says:

      Excellent post Paul !!! but let us renew Trident, and invade and kill others anyway. OR Why not just Leave the UK and its warmongers and austerity plans ,and vote for independence Peace and Prosperity.

  3. Jan Cowan says:

    I totally agree with you, Paul. Excellent piece.

  4. […] Wee Ginger Dug The annual rant about poppies […]

  5. Annie Martin says:

    Completely agree with all the above. Thank you for another spot on piece Paul.

  6. Dave Sharp says:

    NNever mind Paul, after we get over Poppy fetishis sseason, we’ll have the first reports of some terrible foreign influence trying to ban Christmas.

    Yay.

    • fudgebuttons says:

      “Ban christmas”, great idea. Ban all religious festivals and then all religions. A bold idea that I commend you for, Dave.

      • emilytom67 says:

        Why would you ban all/any religions thus offending many many millions that find succour in their religion/faith,it is not the gun that kills but the holder of the gun,we need more religion more prayer more understanding/generosity of spirit,your utopian secular/atheistic world is doing a good job of managing war.

        • fudgebuttons says:

          Clearly you’ve never read your book from start to finish. Don’t cherry-pick, read it all. As a woman it should scare the wits out of you. The common denominator in historical war and genocide is religion.

  7. 100’s of millions of Common Men Women and Children died needlessly during the 20th Century, pawns in the World’s Oligarchs’ relentless power struggles.
    The first two decades of this century are no different.
    The Poppy symbolises the warmongering Elite’s lust for battle, not a commemoration of the wasted lives. All those wars and battles for freedom and democracy, yet our citizens are being plummeted into unheard of penury and privation.
    People are dying inpeacetime because of Ruth Davidson’s Politics.
    And Dugdale fucks off, and Murray abstains.
    I am alarmed at upsurge of ‘military’ programmes, particularly on the State Propaganda machine, the BBC.
    Britain, sorry, England is evolving into an isolated bellicose rogue state in Europe.
    I shall not be buying or wearing a poppy.
    We are told that Hammond is to cut benefits/credits/ disability payments to the tune of £2 billion a year in Scotland, while the rich are getting a further tax cut, and Trident will go ahead.
    Yet Patrick Harvie and his Green Brigade voted with the Tories today, ultimately signing his party’s death warrant Up Here.
    Kezia Dugdale effs off to America again (she was posted missing during the Brexit campaign) and Glasgow announces that the latest Tory Cuts will hit Glasgow citizens to the tune of £167 million a year. But at least the Billy Boys and the Ra can threaten to kill each other and not offend us.
    If there is a fatality during, or around about the New Year’s Day Hatefest at ibrox, I know whom I shall blame.
    There is a growing madness among our Opposition Parties Up Here. They refuse to consider the Big Picture.They are glorified councillors, determined to deal with the ‘wee things’;
    Fitba fights and pot holes.
    We need to get out of this corrupt dying Union soon.

    • hettyforindy says:

      We really do Jack,we need to get out soon. The utterly despicable unionists stoking up hatred within Scotland and using football to ensure that, are beneath contempt. For the Greens to have voted with the tories is just sickening to the core.

      Harvie has a cosy job now, well ensconced and so he and his pretendy Scotland friendly party, can shaft Scotland as well. I wonder, how do those in the Green party now feel about the way they are going, and how do those who gave them their vote in May, feel?

      • Hetty, they’ll know in May 2017 how we all feel, Only one cross on the ballot paper for me. SNP. No second or third choice. That way is the only way to ensure that the Greens get the message.
        I cannot believe that Harvie’s Social Justice stance takes a back seat to standing with the Tories this nonsense, or indeed on anything. I hope he’s pleased with himself.
        We shall not forget.

    • FM says:

      Thanks again Mr.Collatin and thanks again, Paul.

  8. hettyforindy says:

    Brilliant piece thanks Paul.

    What is also the case is that Scotland has been dragged into wars, men and women used as cannon fodder, WMD’s stored against the will of majority of the people of Scotland, and of course, bombs sent to kill and maim, from english bases, in Scotland, in which we have no choice at all.

    I wonder how many actually think that Scotland (especially people south of the border) actually has an ‘MOD’? A few months back I had to correct a petitioner who was incensed that the ‘Scottish MOD’ were bombing the fck out of whales off the west coast of Scotland! You can imagine some of the comments directed at the Scottish government, totally off the mark.

    But by the time they changed the petition to direct it where it should have been, ie, the UK, english MOD, thousands had signed it and would not have seen that it was false, and instigated by someone totally ignorant about how their UKok functions. The petition was started in england.

    Sadly when the unionists decide to bomb anywhere they like, Scotland is implicated, if not actually blamed due to the english MOD having bases in Scotland from where they send those bombs.

    It’s win win for the war mongering unionists, but thoroughly immoral.

    I just hope that the ScotGov can ensure that the english army are kept out of our schools, they have far too much of a presence in Scottish schools, apparently higher than in england!

  9. baronesssamedi says:

    You said it, Paul

  10. scotsgeoff says:

    Amen.

  11. David Agnew says:

    The poppy has been fetishised into something that celebrates war and is now very political. I will support soldiers charities but I won’t wear the poppy. Yesterday I saw something that made me feel very queasy. A metal “poppy” pin made from shell fuses fired by the British during that battle of the Somme. The same rounds which failed to destroy the German front line, its barbed wire or the German bunker. Shells that failed to explode or fell short hitting British units. When discussing the failure of the Somme, the artillery always comes in for much criticism. So here is the British legion, selling relics that stand testament to the failed offensive that claimed so many lives, being sold for £40 quid as an act of “remembrance”.

    http://www.poppyshop.org.uk/somme-1916-poppy-lapel-pin.html?_ga=1.192221672.317463972.1478111931

    So yes Britain. Celebrate a wasteful war and one of its most horrific battles by wearing a relic of that failure, beaten into the shape of a poppy – don’t listen to me, check out the sales pitch.

    “Minor surface imperfections and flaws may exist in the Somme 1916 Poppies due to the use of century old ex-battlefield metal, but such only adds to the item’s character, individuality and charm.”

    • hettyforindy says:

      Bloody hell sorry for swearing but as Paul mentioned this I thought, can’t be, can it? I wonder just exactly what Wilfred Owen, or anyone who had ro fight in any war, would think about that, they would be absolutely horrified as we are and should be.

      I wonder who came up with that idea, utterly despicable to say the least.
      I just despair at times at england’s elite, with their arrogant self importance and dangerous attitude towards the people they are meant to represent. They couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves.

    • stewartb says:

      Hi David, couldn’t believe and had to check for myself the quote you report. But yes, it is true: this is really being marketed as having “… charm”!!!!

      Tempted to check out all the other ‘goodies’ on sale but can’t face it! Had no intention of wearing a red poppy but would usually make a small financial contribution to the poppy seller. Will need to re-think the services charity to support.

      • Gerry Robertson says:

        Like avirtually all the comments I will not wear a Red Poppy but after last year’s ‘Red Poppy rant’, this year I managed to get (after an extensive search) a ‘White- Peace’ Poppy at the Fair trade store in Edinburgh which I will wear with pride. .

    • WRH2 says:

      Minor surface imperfections and flaws may exist in the Somme 1916 Poppies due to the use of century old ex-battlefield metal, but such only adds to the item’s character, individuality and charm.”
      Charm, what has charm to do with anything connected with any war? The disconnect between the horrors of war, any war, and the poppy appeal could not be demonstrated more clearly than by that sick marketing nonsense.

  12. Dointhebiz 1 says:

    So sad!…. So true!…You highlight what I always thought Paul,,, Why would anyone wear the instrument of death of their saviour/idol/loved one around their neck?.. I’ve always found that to be a tad… Well!… ‘sick’!.. Let’s face it, if he’d been stoned to death, would these same people wear a wee pile of rocks done in 9 carat gold around their necks?.. No disrespect to these people who choose to wear an instrument of torture and ultimatelydeath.. But from a personal point of view… I just don’t get it?

  13. Macart says:

    Very well said Paul.

    Not another thing to add.

  14. James Smith says:

    Great post Paul. The ridiculous idea of using discarded shrapnel to create poppies reminds me greatly of a sketch by the late Bill Hicks.

  15. Walter Hamilton says:

    At eleven o’clock on the eleventh of November the UK as a country falls silent remembering the fallen in conflicts past and present. Armistice Day, came into being after the First World War, a time of reflection, a time when ex-servicemen would gathering to remember their fallen comrades. A charity set up after the First World War sold poppies in order to raise money that money would be used to help those returning soldiers wounded in that conflict and became synonymous with Armistice Day. You are free to choose the wearing of a poppy and the reasons for doing so will be personal to you. I feel Poppy Day has been hijacked by politicians and turned into a spectacle of Britishness in all its ugliness. Let’s stop glorifying war.

    We bomb poor innocent men, woman and children in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, meddling and regime change in sovereign countries purely for political reasons that has nothing to do with defending own country, then add insult to injury by putting on this sceptical and if you do not buy your poppy, you are unpatriotic. Armistice Day for me is a reflection of the true cost of war, symbolised by the countless white crosses that stand in seemingly endless rows in war cemeteries across the world. War is a crime against humanity, and the reason I shall never wear a poppy.

  16. It will be interesting to see what conclusions next Tuesday’s B.B.C. Scotland’s, “The Great Miltary Charity Scandal” reach.

  17. George says:

    Eloquent and spot on!
    The poppy has become just another fashion statement.
    It’s meaning had been watered down to the point of becoming meaningless.

    Thanks for another excellent article Paul!

  18. “Remember the dead with the implements of their destruction. ”
    And what of the the millions of crosses worn by millions of people who believe in peace.?

  19. morvenm2014 says:

    The celebration of the centenary in 2014 was the last straw for me.

  20. Marconatrix says:

    I agree most wholeheartedly with the first part of your post, my own feelings exactly and expressed with greater eloquence than I could ever muster.

    I do though have a problem with your concern with living ex-service people, over and above that of any other similar unfortunates dependent on the state.

    Because firstly since WWII the UK has not been seriously threatened by foreign invasion or potential destruction of ¨all we hold dear¨. Any military activity has been in defense of those few remaining scraps of red on the world atlas, generally by keeping down the local people.

    Secondly, no one below pensionable age today would have been conscripted, they were all volunteers. They all chose to learn the arts of violence in the service of the British establishment. Not the British public, who have never been seriously threatened, at least not by anything that amounts to more than criminal activity that should fall within the remit of the police.

    While these people should probably not be treated any worse than anyone else, in many cases perhaps they were victims of state propaganda, nevertheless I can´t feel sorry for them because they protected me, or fought in a noble cause. What noble cause?

    • Kenzie says:

      Unfortunately I was one of those “volunteers” but like many others, I “volunteered” for purely economic reasons. I was ill-educated and could not therefore – even in a time of “full” employment – get a decent job and was reduced to message-boy status. There were many like me.

      We put up with the constant brain-washing that I was subjected to simply because we could not see it for what it was but that it had the desired effect was unmistakable. I remember once being asked by an officer what party I would be voting for; I replied that I would be voting for the SNP. “Rubbish” I was told. “You must vote Tory, they are the army’s friends” I wonder if he still thinks that?

      I travelled extensively and I confess that I thoroughly enjoyed this; had a great time etc. Then came the reckoning. Now I had to earn my corn, do what I was paid for and was sent abroad to kill innocents. I didn’t to my certain knowledge but I got wounded.

      Now, I’m 75 years old, in trouble with my local auithority for a couple of weeks arrears of rent. (This is not a complaint, just a statement of fact).

      I tell you, there is no help for the likes of me. There are other far more deserving cases of ex-servicemen.

      Is there I wonder, such a thing as “forced” volunteers?

    • weegingerdug says:

      I don’t have a concern for former service people over everyone else.

  21. Peter A Bell says:

    My problem is not with what the poppy is SUPPOSED to represent, but with what it has come to represent. It has come to represent grief as a spectator sport, with everybody vying to put on the most ostentatious display of emotion.

    It has come to represent the bloated commercialisation of charity and a massive circus which diverts attention from the state’s abdication of its responsibility to care for the victims of its wars.

    It has come to represent politicians standing atop the heaped corpses of war dead and calling it the moral high ground.

    Worst of all, it has come to represent a rationalisation, if not a glorification of war, and a stick with which to beat those who speak out against war only to be accused of disrespecting the fallen.

    When we should be thinking of people, we are instead urged to obsess over a paltry marketing device. The poppy has come to be, less a reminder of the horrific reality of war, more the sanitised symbol behind which that reality is concealed.

    • fudgebuttons says:

      Indeed, well said.

    • What sticks in my craw Peter, is the sight of these self-same politicians, the ones who are at least partly responsible for the present day carnage, standing with their wreaths at the Cenotaph. The sheer gall of these people knows no bounds. They have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, the destruction of their cities, and then wail that there is a refugee crisis, and the U.K might be shamed into taking a couple of dozen displaced people, persons they have caused to be made stateless, homeless, by their actions.
      I used to wear a poppy with pride, I’m of the National Service generation, but nowadays, while I still contribute to the fund, I no longer feel able to display the symbol.

    • Global Nomad says:

      I couldn’t have put it better myself Peter and also what Alex has said. I decided to stop wearing one for the simple reason that I couldn’t stand to seeing all those glum faces with crocodile tears standing at the cenotaph whilst these same shysters are the very ones who send our loved ones off to invade a country for its resources. The hypocrisy in this instance was just too much for me to bear.
      Also, I cannot stand how every ‘celebrity’ seems to think that the poppy must be shown as some kind of fashion accessory. The Somme Lapel Pin has a price of 39.99, how much of that actually goes to the charity??? I would rather stick the 40 bucks in a tin and be done with it but as I have intimated, I do not wear one and never will again.
      I find it quite funny when people have said to me that I obviously have not patriotic bone in my body to which I reply “Maybe not but I do have a Medal for Op Veritas, go look it up”

  22. Angus Macdiarmid says:

    Dear Dug, Thank you for this. I totally agree with you. My Papa fought in WW1, in the HLI, and was an air raid warden in WW2. He was a Glasgow tram driver, a talented artist, a self taught watch and clock repairer and a warm, loving and intelligent human being who was the centre of out family for my first sixteen years, till he died after an operation. We were very close and I know he would have been outraged and disgusted by the glorification of war that the poppy now symbolises. I would like to share your blog with some people on Facebook. May I do so? Kind Regards Susan Macdiarmid

  23. Electric blue says:

    Why should ex- service people have to rely on charity? The poppy is surely a symbol of the government’s refusal to look after those who fought in the service of their country.
    It should be worn with shame and embarrassment or as a protest against governments who refuse to look after their own people.

  24. Simon Coldrick says:

    Powerful piece. Thank you.

  25. Les Bremner says:

    I was in the centre of Glasgow last week, intending to walk out to London Road and buy white poppies.
    However, when I looked about, there were very, very, few red poppies being worn. Something seems to have changed this year.

  26. Guga says:

    I well remember when wearing poppies was a mark of respect to honour those that had given their lives to fight, and die, for their country. My grandfather was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and my father was badly wounded by shrapnel and bullets at the Dardanelles. Thus, my first reaction to your article was that it was a bit harsh on the older generation who still wear poppies for the original purpose.

    However, given the attitude and the lack of caring and empathy of English governments for the travails of ex-soldiers, and their hijacking of Armistice Day to glorify politicians and their aims of following, like tame dogs, the warmongering Americans wherever they go, whoever they invade and whatever number of innocent people they murder, I realize that your article speaks the truth.

    Actually, the attitude of the English government towards ex-soldiers brings to mind the situation that prevailed before the turn of the 20th century wherein the English government deducted the cost of the blanket for burying soldiers killed in action from their outstanding pay. The English government have not quite got to that stage yet, but they are not far from it.

    The only way we, in Scotland, can get back to being a caring and empathetic society that does not wish to go around directly and indirectly murdering thousands of innocent civilians, is to get rid of the English shackles. We need to be an independent country again, wherein we will only fight to protect our own people and country.

  27. Puts me in mind of an Irish lad I knew, who joined the British Army to escape the abuse of the orphanage when he was under-age at fifteen. He didn’t really learn the truth about the Troubles until he was already a soldier. I can’t remember how he managed to leave, but suspect he deserted as he was only seventeen when we met. We shared a dormitory with about twelve beds in a London hostel for those down and out of luck. Working as a scaffolder by day, he spent his days drinking himself into oblivion by night. A few years later I met him again, by that time he was hooked on heroin. Abused by both church and state only to be rejected by society. He may not have seen any military action, but he deserved much more. Don’t expect he saw any poppy money.

  28. Perhaps a white feather is more appropriate than a white poppy.

  29. Daisy Walker says:

    IN A GENTLE WAY

    The Poppy Polis are out again. It’s that time of year. I’m 47 and since the age of 4 I’ve bought and worn the red poppy. Latterly with pride, more recent years with growing unease.

    Unease at a media determined to glorify and romanticise the pointless slaughter of WW1. Perhaps they think its far enough away in living memory, no one will challenge it. Well my granny remembered losing her cousin, and she told me! I won’t be forgetting.

    And for what? So the already rich could get even richer.

    A media extensively owned by tax dodging, non dom, billionaires, telling us how and when to be patriotic. Wheeling out the Royal Family with stories of WW2, and neglecting to mention their private habits of Nazi Salutes in the Garden, attending German Nazi run schools and having SS Brother-In-Laws, when even then, the evidence was blatant, Hitler and the Nazis were bad news.

    The same sour faced Royals that grudged paying taxes, and now have the accounts made secret, so you’ll never know if they’re dodging them again. Aye, there’s many ways to be patriotic, but contributing to society with your taxes is not for awbidy.

    And recent years, illegal wars for oil. Oh they say its for other reasons, humane reasons. Aye right, like non existent WMD, dodgy dossiers, fighting ISIS one day and funding them the next.

    Bastards, its all about the oil, and its all about the already rich getting even richer.

    And the price paid, paid in the bodies of bairns and poor bloody squaddies yet again.

    And the long haired media ‘history’ man, what he’ll not tell you… The death rates for the Scottish Battalions in WW1 – 26%. 13% for rUK. They keep that little nugget well hidden.

    And you’ll not hear about the in-between war, when the survivors of WW1, stood up to Franco. Stood up for the people who voted in majority for democracy in Spain. Got themselves out there, got themselves funded. And the writing on the wall from the Labour Party then, as now. Not an official Labour spine in sight. The people did it. in spite of them, not with their assistance.

    And The King kept shtoom. Nae much fae the Kirk ’n’ Chapel either. But they’ll be wearing the blood red Poppy on Sunday, of that you can be sure. One has to be seen to be respectful, for the ‘right sort’ of wars.

    So the blood red Poppies are out again. I heard it said, or read it somewhere, now its produced by BAE. A Weapons Manufacturer. Dear God. Beyond irony, beyond satire.

    So, this year, I’ll be supporting the troops, as I always have, but I’ll be leaving off the Poppies and supporting the Peace.

    Trying in a small way, to get some little pieces of information out there. And while I think of the fallen troops and their bravery, equally my thoughts will be for the Conscientious Objectors and the courage they showed.

    This year I’ll be wearing a White Feather, and if asked, I’ll be saying,

    “At the going down of the Sun, and with our Votes, we remember.”

    And in a gentle way, in a democratic way, we can change this world… I anticipate trouble.

  30. Iain says:

    I saw a foreign-looking man on TV this morning not wearing a poppy, but rela;. I trust he’s been arrested by now and hopefully sanctioned. The Romanian trans-sexual benefits scrounger that he probably is.

  31. bjsalba says:

    I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.

    Harry Patch

  32. Macart says:

    Take it you’ve heard about the courts ruling on May and article 50 Paul?

    Clear the decks for action.

  33. You have articulated so well what I have been thinking for some time.

  34. dramfineday says:

    Aye,Kipling certainly covered it: “For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!” But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;” very moving poem about the soldiers lot.

    F.I.L is 96 now, fought in Burma, wont wear a medal, nor a poppy,…….”seen too much for that shit”. His father died when he was 10 as a result of complications caused by WW1 wounds received in Mesopotamia (and in 2016, we’ve still got a toe in the water!)

    Thank you Paul.

  35. Les Bremner says:

    I am feeling optimistic about the mood of the Scottish people towards Westminster and the hypocritical professional mourners.

    Over the four hours which I spent in Glasgow today in Argyll Street, Trongate, Buchanan Street and Central Station, I kept my eyes peeled for poppies. I saw 63 in all that time.

  36. Ian Clark says:

    The rich and powerful in the British state have usually benefited from war and celebrated it – discreetly of course. Armistice Day started as a day for ordinary people; a remembering of those who had fallen; an expression of our humanity. For the elite it was a day of mourning for fallen profits. But nearly 100 years on they celebrate its near complete transformation to Armaments Day. The tragedy of this day and the poppy dominated weeks before it – is that we have let it happen.

    It’s late in the day, but there’s still time to fight against those who insult and attack our humanity.

    • Les Bremner says:

      “Armaments Day” That is profound.
      How much money is made from exports of arms?

      • Les, I don’t know about exports, but I note that the UK Govt is paying the US Industrial and Military Complex £3.5 billion for 600 tanks which the army say are as battle effective as Airfix models.
        This seems to typify Westminster’s ‘special relationship’ with the US.
        We pay them billions for junk, and WMD’s that cannot be used.
        This is what’s truly MAD.
        Yet our poorest starve, and are evicted from their Bedroom Taxed Homes because Ruth Davidson would rather sell her ass to BBC Trash TV than care about the welfare of Scotland and its citizens.
        Proportionately that’s about £280 million of our money spent on US tanks that would not stop a Dallas bound fifty Pence piece at an Old Firm Battle.
        Nearly £300 million of our Scots taxes heading across the pond for useless junk.

      • brianmchugheng says:

        …Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade!!!

  37. David says:

    Full respect to all who fought fascism and stood up for democracy in the Second World War. Was it possibly luck or fate that put us in a position where Britain could unite and fight a fascism that clearly embedded itself into the the government, establishment and culture of some other nations in Europe and beyond. Today I really wonder would we be as able to see a fascism that crept up on us from within?

  38. […] in previous years there have been some excellent articles and coverage across new media. But other than online debates and filling a few column inches, what […]

  39. grizebard says:

    We seem to have entirely forgotten these days that the poppy appeal is a charity set up in the wake of the turmoil of the Great War to aid damaged ex-servicemen, using a symbol inspired by the wild poppies that grew in the bloody churned-up fields of France and Flanders. Admirable, a gentle reminder of an awful time that simultaneously achieved something worthwhile for those who had once been in harm’s way. A donation was a voluntary act, and each therefore had significance, a personal act of charity and remembrance.

    Now? Wearing a poppy seems to be obligatory if you are in public life. You are somehow suspicious or “unpatriotic” if you don’t. Poppy fetishism is the rule. We may still need instruments of war, but the very notion (let alone the act) of painting a poppy onto even one of them is fundamentally vile, a contemptible perversion, a gross insult to all the fallen whom it represents.

    What was once a virtuous campaign has been hijacked by a corroded state in a vain attempt to bolster its own faded grandeur. And the poppy thereby degraded into a symbol of its own utter hollowness.

  40. brianmchugheng says:

    “What started as an emblem of mourning, a national outpouring of remembrance that war is destructive, meaningless and wracked with pain and grief, has over the years been coopted into a symbol of nationalistic glorification of the military.”

    Nail on the head. I completely fail to understand those who do not see this.

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