The Red and the White
The White Poppy and the Red Poppy are two sides of the same coin.
But how will we use it?
Both poppies have a great history.
The White Poppy began to be sold in 1933. It was to stand for all war deaths, an end to wars, and for peace.
This came after the 1928 international Kellogg Briand Pact where leading nations agreed to renounce and outlaw war.
A hundred years ago, 90 per cent of the deaths in war were of soldiers. Now, the case for the white poppy is stronger than ever, as it is claimed 90 per cent of deaths in modern wars, are deaths of civilians. Of those ‘dying for their country’ now, only one in 10 are soldiers.
A lot of people do not know the background to the Red Poppy.
In 1918 when the men came back from war, they were furious. They had watched so many of their friends die – in slaughter – in murder as the last veteran told us a few years ago – in the ‘war to end all wars’ – and which didn’t. They had seen so many of their brave comrades cut down – lions led by donkeys.
Officials recognised that something had to be done to help defuse the anger of the hundreds of thousands of men, all trained in arms, who were returning to their country – and to be forgotten by the system.
General Haig was very aware of this anger and wished to support ex-soldiers but also to protect the status quo. So the Royal British Legion was born.
It soaked up the other ex-servicemen’s organisations – except, notably, the NUX, the National Union of Ex-servicemen, which survived until 1922.
Soon Haig and the Legion adopted the Red Poppy – via America and France – and this was first sold around the country in 1921, in memory of the military dead.
In 1922 the hundreds of thousands of NUX members were encouraged to join the Labour Party, and others, to work for a fairer country.
In 1923, the Labour Party helped form the Government for the first time, and former servicemen became part of the first attempt to create a ‘land fit for heroes’. The question now is: in a country at war for most of this century, so far, and taught to hate enemy countries, and many groups of people, what do we know about peace?
Suspending arms deals
Last week, I was lucky enough to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak at a local Labour Party meeting in Lancashire.
He spoke about a range of issues but one that stuck in my mind was when he addressed the reasons why more than 100 Labour MPs failed to support his resolution to suspend arms deals with Saudi Arabia – which is thought to be committing war crimes in Yemen, according to the United Nations.
Corbyn said he could understand some MPs’ fears over losing massive arms deals that the UK benefits from.
But he added the country should move away from having to rely on these deals when it was so apparent civilians were being slaughtered with weapons we sell abroad.
He also answered a question about his vision for the armed forces under a Labour Government by clearly stating he had no plans to scrap them but instead wanted military staff properly equipped and trained to carry out peace-keeping missions on behalf of the UN.
Whether his approaches to the two issues above spook voters who are fed a daily dose of fear by the current Government and mainstream media remains to be seen.