An interesting take by the Guardian on the crescendo of poppyness as Remembrance Sunday approaches..
“An observer from another planet might suppose tomorrow’s Remembrance Day ceremonies would at the least be tinged with anger, and might provoke bitter protest. They will not, of course, despite the growing protests of some soldiers’ families. That is no thanks to the dubious new interpretation of remembrance that is evident in the stridency with which poppy-wearing by celebrities and newsreaders and X-factor judges is policed, and by campaigns in some newspapers to make leading football clubs wear embroidered poppies on their shirts. The appetite for public emotion is threatening to turn the act of remembrance into a symbol of conformity, a kind of alternative national flag. The obvious argument against this is that conformity robs it of its real meaning.”
The grass roots nature of the poppy appeal shouldn’t be exaggerated. An emblem adopted by the “Earl Haig Fund,” named after the controversial C-in-C who fed the mincing machine of the Western Front isn’t exactly dissident, while it remains voluntary. Not for the first time, Channel 4 s Jon Snow calls the fairly recent convention for TV presenters poppy fascism. BTW Wearing poppies on BBC NI is not compulsory, as Fionnuala OConnor claimed in an otherwise well nuanced piece recently in the Irish Times. Its just that during the poppy wearing period, anyone not wishing to do so wont appear. Ok , its a fine distinction, but what else can they do? As Sarah Smith says in that piece about Jon Snow, not wearing a poppy has become more of a statement than wearing one- even I suspect, in the public sphere in Northern Ireland.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London