Please, No Poppy Fights in 2019


Brexiteers have no monopoly on Britishness. On paper Brexiteers are as British as Continuity Remain – they simply lack the same sense of loyalty to the EU that continuity remainers claim to have. The “Britishness” battle that goes on every day on social media is a dumb one – one that is best avoided in the interests of people just getting on.

Similarly, as poppy season approaches, let’s not get dragged down this year into the same old tiresome poppy arguments – especially along the Brexit divide – as to who has the right to wear a poppy, when the reality is (for now at least) we reside in a state of freedom for which those poppy-represented warriors, knowingly or unknowingly, fought. If the world were perfect we should all honour and remember them by sporting a poppy. Remembering their sacrifice is important to who we are – it’s not an excuse for a scrap. They did not put their heads above the parapet to be the subject of a slanging match – they did their duty and most of us have been lucky enough not to have repeated the sacrifices forced on them. Alas the world is not perfect and there are some idiots who waste their freedom by being idiots – freedom allows them that privilege just as democracy allows for muppets like Jeremy Corbyn to find a job.

Three years have passed since John Lubbock wrote his Independent poppy attack piece against Brexiteers. Hopefully those stupid words of his still haunt whoever Lubbock is – if he’s a real person. More likely Lubbock is some clickbait pseudonym designed to attract views to the Independent blog:

“The Leave campaign claimed to honour the victims of war while denigrating the very institutions set up to prevent future ones. They have therefore shown themselves to be historically illiterate at best.”

Fortunately most Brits are not Lubbocks. Most Brits do not engage in wars of words over dead servicemen or get het up about those morons who sport white poppies. They don’t succumb to that ridiculous game of “my father invaded Rome” or “my grandfather died on Gold” – trying to use an ancestor’s achievements in war in an attempt to trump an opponent’s view of the use of poppies is risible.

Always remember that Twitter is so-called because it gives a voice to twits – it creates useful echo chambers where even the nutter on the bus can collect a few likes and retweets. You should not be swayed by most of the nonsense spouted on there or by clickbait found in struggling newspapers. You are far more likely to hear sense in the wards on Broadmoor.

If you want to understand the tradition of why we sport poppies, it is to honour and remember our war dead – not as part of some nationalistic sparring match. This video explains why in a simple and unbiased way:

So wear your poppies with pride this year. Remembrance Sunday is on the 10th November.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.
In Flanders Fields by John McRae