OPINION: Why white poppies are counter productive

Red poppies are worn to honour the armed forces which are distributed by the RBL. Meanwhile, white poppies have been given out by PPC, with hopes to commemorate all lives that were lost in the war.

CCCU student Tristan Ledger speaks out on why he’ll be sticking with the red poppies… 

The colours that make up St George’s Cross are being argued over… again. As the centenary of WW1 approaches, causing the bickering to reach its crescendo, I have finally been dragged into a mess that stems solely from a difference of opinion. I’ve come out on the other side thinking that: white poppies are a bit forced, aren’t they?

White poppies were handed out by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU)

Whilst a healthy debate around the topic is key to developing knowledge, at some point the constant barrage of what is deemed ‘appropriate’ in the news gets tiresome. Speaking on ‘Good Morning Britain’, Symon Hill (of the Peace Pledge Union, adopters of the white poppy) talks of wanting Remembrance Day to be about all casualties of war, regardless of nationality, role, or gender. A commendable goal, but it feels like they are trying to appease everybody, thus lessening their group’s appeal to the vast majority.

“The act of remembrance for a particular group doesn’t render one incapable of empathising with the sacrifices made by others.”

Remembrance Day is not a day for those who wish to push an agenda. The symbolism of all poppies are the same: to remember those who have fallen in war, isn’t that enough? The eleventh day of the eleventh month marks when we pay our respects to the members of allied armed forces who have died in order to protect us. But the act of remembrance for a particular group doesn’t render one incapable of empathising with the sacrifices made by others.

Why is it wrong to be a bit selective about to whom, we as a nation, choose to pay our respects to on one day of the year? I don’t think that lumping together all other casualties, from all other wars, in an attempt to shift the discourse towards that of the pacifist movement is a good way to go about things. It screams of a naivety, a lack of perspective that hurts their cause.

Naivety leads me onto another key point as to why white poppies on Remembrance Day are counter-productive. The government is incapable of looking after our veterans. Thousands of our veterans are either dependent on the failing Universal Credit or homeless, and we’d be naive to think the government will address this issue soon. Mental health conditions arise in veterans at a rate higher than in average citizens, but again with seemingly inadequate support from the government.

One of the main charities trying to fill this gap is the Royal British Legion, who, thanks to poppy sales in 2017, earned over £49m – that’s 30% of their total income for the entire year. With 100,000 white poppies in 2017 being sold, indirectly competing with the sale of red poppies, this must lower the income of the RBL.

The profits of the white poppies are sent towards challenging militarism, and while one might be able to argue that the prevention of war is more positive in the long-run, real-life decisions can’t be made based purely on what’s most efficient. Morals, people.

On a day that exists solely because of peace, it’s ironic that it serves as such a catalyst for conversation over our perceived lack of it.

Disclaimer: Views, thoughts and opinions expressed on this article solely belong to the author and does not represent the views of Unified as an organisation.
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