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Pacifist poppy

Tony Simpson, Honiton

ImageAs a member of the British Legion, I made no secret of my pacifist convictions and found a sympathetic hearing among many older ex-service personnel.

I come from a military family but I decided to break the mould when I realised the true costs of war, including increasing civilian casualties. Our Legion social club was forced to close recently, one of dozens of failing clubs. These property assets are realising a huge income stream for the work of the British Legion. They need it – since they seem to me to be increasingly doing the government’s job.

Having once worked for the military, I am not unsympathetic to the sacrifices made. But is it right for the British Legion to raise £50 million for the army recovery capability programme for wounded, injured and sick service personnel?

Isn’t this the government’s responsibility? And why has the Legion given £5 million to fund reseach into blast injuries? The Legion does not make war, the government does.

The red poppy is not about “heroes”; it is supposed to remind us of the human costs of war. I have told the Legion the best way to prevent this is to oppose war and promote peace (as symbolised by the white poppy).

As for the Red Poppy Appeal, the Legion magazine (July-August 2010) quotes the director general of the Legion as saying: “Of the £115.2 million income achieved by the Legion in the last financial year – £35 million of which was raised therough the Poppy Appeal – £29.7 million was spent on the salaries of both head office and regional staff.’

A £2.27m rise is attributed to the appointment of 80 extra staff across the organisation. At a time when many charities are in difficulty, it is a huge bill for staff salaries.

I wonder how much of it is related to recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc?


Topics: Anti-militarism