1 December 2023News

Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Parents Circle - Families Forum speak at alternative remembrance ceremony 

The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony, organised by the Peace Pledge Union and friends, was held in Tavistock Square, Central London, on 12 November. Over 200 participants observed two minutes’ silence and laid white poppy wreaths in memory of all victims of war. There were three speeches, focused on Palestine.

Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians said: ‘Yesterday saw one of the biggest demonstrations in the United Kingdom against the conflict in the Middle East…

1 October 2023Feature

Hypocrisy, boosting the military-industrial complex and narrowing solidarity

Exactly what Britons commemorate when they wear a red poppy has evolved ever since the emergence of that symbol in the aftermath of the First World War.

One of the reasons the poppy has been such an enduring symbol is that it has always had a capacity to mean slightly different things to different people. For some, it has conveyed the memory of personal and collective suffering (best illustrated perhaps with the saying: ‘lest we forget’).

For others, it is a sign of respect and…

1 December 2022News

Remembrance Day peace events held in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Bradford and Brighton

Two days before this year’s National Alternative Remembrance ceremony on 13 November, my affinity group, the Mad Hatters, hung placards on the fence by each of the entrances to Tavistock Square in Central London (where the ceremony is held) giving details of the event and inviting people to join it. We also hung wreaths with white poppies by each entrance.

On the day, we gave out leaflets at the entrances inviting people to join the ceremony.

(The Mad Hatters did the same…

1 October 2022News

Peace symbol now recyclable

White poppies are now plastic-free and recyclable! The poppies are now being made for the Peace Pledge Union by Calverts, a workers’ co-op in London. White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism. (A pack of five costs £5 plus £3 p&p.) More info and orders: PPU, 020 7424 9444,

1 December 2021News

Wreaths of white poppies laid across UK

Wreaths of white poppies were laid in more than 20 towns and cities around the UK to remember all victims of war on 14 November, Remembrance Sunday.

The white poppy represents: remembrance for _all_ victims of war, a commitment to peace, and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war. They were founded in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) organised the National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony in London’s Tavistock Square, with…

1 October 2021Comment

A poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

‘The peace garden is opposite the War Memorial,’
Said the old soldier.

‘We had to fight to make the peace
Back in the good old days.’

‘No, the War Memorial is opposite the peace garden,’
Said the old pacifist.

‘You’ve had so many wars to end all wars,
Still millions are dying from the wars you left behind.’

‘Look,’ said the old soldier.
‘You chickens stuck your peace garden
In front of our War Memorial to cause non-violent…

1 December 2016News in Brief

Veterans for Peace UK had their largest Remembrance Sunday turnout on 13 November. 68 members of VfP walked behind a banner saying ‘Never Again’ to lay a wreath of white poppies at the Cenotaph in London.

The ceremony was the last piece of a four-day VfP UK gathering which included a public conference, a day-long AGM, and a guided peace walk in central London.

During the conference, a panel discussion on ‘Creating Enemies: Social perspectives’ was addressed by Bilal…

1 December 2016News

Alternative remembrance day events held around UK

‘I would rather have been there than anywhere else in the world,’ said Scottish pacifist poet Ashby McGowan after the Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony in London on 13 November. He added: ‘Like many of the people there, I was in tears during the ceremony.’

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) organised the ceremony in Tavistock Square only a short distance from the official ceremony at the Cenotaph with its display of military pomp.

Ashby McGowan read some of his poetry…

1 December 2015News

Aberystwyth peace action

White and red poppy wreaths are laid together during Aberystwyth’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony, after 11 years of negotiations between the town council, the Royal British Legion, and Aberystwyth Peace & Justice Network. Photo: Alun Williams

25 November 2014News

White poppies binned - and restored - in Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth Town councillor Jeff Smith lays the white poppy wreath for the second time. Photo: Kelvin Mason

As you read, imagine the contrast between the sea of red poppies gushing from the Tower of London and four fragile white poppy wreaths laid on a storm-lashed memorial in a small seaside town. On Remembrance Sunday, Aberystwyth town council, Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network (AP&JN), Women in Black and Côr Gobaith laid white poppy wreaths at the war memorial in…

31 December 2013News

In a respectful, poignant and moving white poppy ceremony in Aberystwyth, about 50 people from the area gathered on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate those who have lost their lives through war or in the preparation for war.

The white poppy is a symbol of grief for all people of all nationalities, armed forces and civilians alike, who are victims of war.

A silent vigil for peace by Aberystwyth Women in Black preceded the ceremony which combined songs, poems and words of peace and reconciliation. In addition to David Roberts’ poem, ‘There will be peace’, Harry Rogers read his own powerful and moving ‘White Poppies’ and ‘Son’, the latter written in response to the loss of a friend’s…

31 December 2013News

Ben Griffin from Veterans for Peace UK on taking the message to the Cenotaph

Veterans for Peace marching in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.
Photo: Guy Smallman

As a child I was captivated by the sombre parades of Remembrance Sunday. The soldiers in their greatcoats, the veterans wearing their medals, and ‘The Last Post’, all played a part in recruiting me into the army.

Since I left the army, the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday have become hard for me to endure. The public relations campaign waged each year by the Royal British Legion…

1 December 2012Comment

Jeremy Kingston is inspired by Lt Gen Sir John Kiszley's frank admission

‘a tremendous networking opportunity’  – Lt General Sir John Kiszley’s comment on the Festival of Remembrance. He subsequently resigned as president of the British Legion.

How true it is, when each year, come November,
we gather here at Whitehall to remember
those gallant fellows we sent out to die,
whose sacrifice we’re here to glorify.
Other Ranks, yes, but subalterns as well
who, and the nation mourns their passing, fell.

Yet there’s…

1 December 2011News

The amazing turnabout in fortunes which marketing has brought to the Royal British Legion’s red poppy campaign is just the beginning for the nation’s most revered bloom, thinks Welsh entrepreneur Oliver Cyboli.

This year’s campaign is expected to raise the most money ever, more than £40m. The furore caused by Fifa’s objection to the England and Wales football teams wearing the emblem on their shirts during games, neither of which was against a former Axis power, set soccer fan Mr Cyboli thinking.

“We’ve seen what sponsorship has done for soccer, the money that has flowed into the game and the amazing talent it has bought – I mean brought. Well, this year we’ve seen designer red poppies…

1 November 2011Feature

A brief history of remembrance the pacifist way.

The idea of detaching Armistice Day, the red poppy and, later, Remembrance Day from their military culture dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.

A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint “No More War” in the centre of the red poppies instead of “Haig Fund” and, failing this, pacifists should make their own flowers.