Provocative poppies

IssueDecember 2005 - January 2006

They may have been in circulation since the 1930s (hmm.. sounds familiar...), but the power of the white poppy to provoke remains as pronounced as ever.

In the run up to Remembrance Sunday, the Movement for the Abolition of War and Royal British Legion were widely reported as having reached some kind of “truce”, with the Legion agreeing to remove their contentious “wars are inevitable” statement from their website and to include MAW information in their schools pack. MAW invited the Legion to speak at their annual lecture held at the Imperial War Museum.

However, despite this thaw between the Legion and one peace organisation, the thorny issue of the Peace Pledge Union's white “peace poppy” remains, with the Legion commenting that the “red poppy already says everything that the white poppy is trying to say.” But the latter apparently speaks volumes more to some people, as one peace campaigner discovered when attending the Terrorism Bill lobby of Parliament on 9 November.

Intending to sit in the public gallery to listen to the debate, she was denied access for the sole reason that she refused to remove the white poppy she was wearing. When challenged, the security guard obstructing her confirmed that she would have been admitted, had the offending article been red. Commenting later on the incident she said “I was amazed - it is about remembering all those who died.”