Poppy wars are a seasonal distraction from the horrors of today

Theresa May should worry less about FIFA and more about governing


Every year at around this time, some row or other flares up around Remembrance Day and the wearing of poppies.

Sometimes the rows involve poppy-burning Islamists, sometimes the fealty of a news anchor to the national mood. Any such fracas is guaranteed space in the country’s newspapers and emotive consensus across parties.

So it was with Theresa May’s attack on FIFA today for not letting footballers wear poppy armbands on November 11.

Leave aside how welcome a distraction this is for a PM who frankly has bigger carp to cook, what with the country taking a jump off the Brexit cliff with no plan or public scrutiny.

How brave is it really, and how attuned to the lessons of history, to engage in petty culture wars at a time of rising nationalism, the worst refugee crisis since WWII, and mass death by bombs, torture and chemical weapons in Syria?

This posy nonsense would be trashed as ‘virtue signalling’ by the same hacks eager to second the Prime Minister if it didn’t conform to their own pieties. But yet again May is taking her cues from the very papers she knows will review her performance. How clever.

People are entitled to their views on poppies. FIFA is presumably entitled to set a dress code for its games. (Though I’d love to hear the argument all those corporate adverts on uniforms and stadiums are ‘not political’.)

Politicians, meanwhile, should get on with governing, and should be ridiculed every time they try to change the subject from their actual duties to sport and commemorative badges.

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Is Theresa May running a government or a Daily Mail column?

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5 Responses to “Poppy wars are a seasonal distraction from the horrors of today”

  1. David Lindsay

    Will the Scottish players’ shirts or armbands feature the Scottish poppy, which conforms to a natural one in having four petals and no leaf? The Canadian poppy appears to be similar. But that is an aside. At Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn raised the matter of a military veteran who had died because he had been subjected to a benefit sanction. Instead, though, all coverage is of the wearing of poppies during a football match, which in itself is an extremely recent innovation.

    The whole point of wearing the poppy is negated by compulsion. Still, if it were indeed to be worn by the players of a football match between England and Scotland on Armistice Day, then what, exactly, would be the penalty, so to speak? Yes, I do still wear the poppy. I take the point of those who say that it has been twisted into an expression of support for recent, current and proposed wars. But I refuse to surrender it to the people who have done that twisting.

  2. Mick

    Oh yes, the seasonal tradition of lefties whining about poppy fascism, as they term it.

    It reminds me of the video game Cannon Fodder and the editor of that Amiga computer game magazine. After war heroes slammed the magazine for advertising a war game on poppy day, its editor retorted that he’d like to see all these old men dead.

    Then when there was fuss over that, he criticised the old men for trying to deny his freedom of speech!

    I forget the left wing blog but one of them backed the editor in recent years. Lefties regularly also tell us that fighting for the Falklands was some kind of war crime, so they’ve no room to preach morality on the etiquette of wearing poppies.


  3. CR

    Shameful article.

  4. Imran Khan

    Once again conspiracy theories from Adam. It’s all to distract the working class from the real issues. No wonder you got the sack from the Archant Group Adam.

  5. What if a British footballer wanted to wear a white poppy? | Left Foot Forward

    […] in the media have pushed the FA to ignore the FIFA rules and put them on armbands for players to wear at the England vs Scotland game this week, but what if one of the players […]

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