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White Poppy sales break records

Sales of white poppies are higher this year than they've ever been – since the Co-operative Women's Guild created the symbol in 1933 to remember all those killed in war.

White poppies for peace

The Peace Pledge Union – the pacifist organisation that supplies and distributes white poppies in Britain – has sold 119,555 white poppies this year, as of the end of Wednesday 7 November.

The number is bound to rise further in the remaining days until Remembrance Sunday.

The previous record was 110,000 white poppies in 2015. Until 2014, the record was around 80,000 in 1938. Last year, the figure was 101,000.

The rise comes despite a stream of abuse against white poppy wearers on social media, and attacks on white poppy wearers from public figures including Conservative MP Johnny Mercer and broadcaster Piers Morgan.

News of the record-breaking white poppy sales comes as the PPU and other peace organisations prepare for Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremonies in London and elsewhere this weekend.

The number of shops and other outlets known to be selling white poppies has risen by almost a third, while there have been 70 orders for the 'White Poppies for Schools' pack – more than double the figure for last year. There were 34 orders for the new 'White Poppies for Churches' pack, piloted this year.

The Schools pack is produced jointly by the PPU and Forces Watch, while the Churches pack is produced jointly by the PPU and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The PPU said that the rise in sales was a sign of more and more people wishing to remember victims of war by working for peace. They said they represent growing resistance to narrow nationalistic agendas that confine remembrance to the British armed forces.

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism.

The Royal British Legion, who produce red poppies, say that remembrance should be concerned only with British and allied armed forces personnel. They also say that the red poppy demonstrates 'support for the armed forces'.

Sophie Morrison of the Peace Pledge Union said:

'In a world where the news is full of violence and the rise of nationalism, it is encouraging to see so many people upholding different values. In the centenary of the end of World War One, revulsion at the wastefulness of war is leading many people to remember the victims of war by working for peace.

'Of course we are very pleased to have distributed so many white poppies but it is the meaning behind the symbol that matters. If everyone who wears a white poppy takes action against militarism and war, and works for peace and active nonviolence, that would be a fitting memorial to the millions of civilians and combatants whose lives have been
wasted in war.'

Symon Hill is the co-ordinator of the Peace Pledge Union.

Topics: Pacifism