Jude Collins

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Wearing the poppy - it's your right, you know

That was an interesting news item on  BBC TV last night, wasn’t it? A young woman who’d worn a small poppy-emblem on her shirt was told to remove it as, presumably, her employers wanted a political-emblems-free zone. She refused and won. Now all the Poundland (is that what they’re called?) stores throughout the UK have given the OK to wearing poppies. 

Fair play. The young woman clearly feels something for the poppy, which represents those who gave their lives fighting in the British Army down the years.  Some people think that deserves honouring, which is why Maggie Ritchie,  briefly the SDLP leader, will be wearing one.  Myself, I won’t be.  Never have and probably never will. But that’s because I have a different view of the British Army from Maggie Ritchie and the young woman from Poundland. Different folks, different strokes. A question of tolerance, really.

But then you think about it and you start to see how far tolerance stretches. In the BBC in Belfast, except things take a dramatic turn this year,  all presenters appearing on the TV screen will be wearing a poppy. A few years ago Donna Traynor, I believe,  expressed reluctance to wear one but after a short sharp chat with management, normal service was resumed and she appeared wearing it.

So to sum up, everyone in Poundland has the right to wear a poppy, everybody appearing on the BBC Belfast screen must wear a poppy.  

And then there’s the question of the Easter Lily. It honours those who died in the cause of Irish freedom. That’s freedom from domination by Britain. And this is the point where I offer a bet. I’ll give you 10-1 that no presenter in the BBC this Eastertime will wear an Easter Lily.  You can,  you must wear a poppy, which honours all those who served in the British Army for decades and centuries; you cannot and you must not wear an Easter Lily (or any similar emblem), which honours those who fought and died in the search for Irish freedom.

I hate to say it, boys and girls, but if you think it’s a long, long way to Tipperary, it’s a  damned sight  longer way to equality in this sad little north-east corner. 


  1. Poppy vs Easter Lily?? Not really a comparison is it??
    Slightly different set of circumstances there.

  2. Agreed, Jonny, that the circumstances are different but I think the comparison is valid. Both commemorate/honour those who fought in wars - the poppy the British Army in its many campaigns, the Easter Lily those who fought for Irish independence. Different but definitely comparable.

  3. I will be starting a "Poppy Watch" on my own site soon.
    Name and Shame.

  4. Congratulations to the lady who stood up for her rights and won. Its always good to see the little man/woman acheive a victory over a big company. I only wish I would receive the same support from the media if I was to wear my Easter Lilly into work. It seem elitism even exists in death.

  5. What about the former political advisor to the Democratic Unionist Party who is only loyal to the British Crown as long as it is protestant?


  6. Well said Jude: poppy fascism is the height of intolerance and represents how shallow the pluralism of the BBC really is.

  7. What about the thousands of Irish Catholics who died in both World Wars? Are they not worthy of remembrance?

    I seem to recall that Northern Ireland's only Victoria Cross winner was a Catholic from Belfast. I suppose the fact he fought Nazi Germany, the greatest evil of the 20th Century, to preserve freedom is an irrelevance and because he happened to serve in the British army he should not be commemorated.

    Let go of the bigotry and move on!

  8. The SDLP have some nerve banging on about Bloody Sunday when in Derry they honour the killers by wearing poppies and laying a wreath at the cenotaph.

  9. Everyone should have the right to wear their Emblems, how ever note to the above comment , would that be the same Germany that Armed Lord carson's U.V.F. with 12,000 riffles to do down the English Parliament sorry about having a pop at that one

  10. Jude you may correct me if I'm wrong, I believe the emblem was created a couple of years after the first world war as a means of giving some employment to the "heroes" for whom the land wasn't fit in order to prevent a revolution. Given that there is a welfare state now looking after the remnants of the survivors of ww2 and korea it would seem that the practice of collecting money to ease the plight of these "heroes" is a tad redundant. Why do I make this claim? Well last year, I had cause to look at the published finances of the Poppy Day appeal, it would appear they have about £350million sloshing about in reserves and property. So either there has been little demand for their assistance over the years or it just isn't necessary. Which would make the poppy merely a political symbol something toglorify the British warmongering.

  11. The welfare state does not make the work of the British Legion unecessary. It and other charities fill an ever widening gap in state provision into which many veterans would otherwise fall.