The poppy is the amphetamine of the respectable moaning classes

10 11 2011

There are always two celebratory events at the start of a British November; “Bonfire Night”, where we celebrate Britain’s history of catholic oppression, and “Remembrance Day”, where we celebrate the annual row about poppies on football shirts.

This year the cause of the row is FIFA’s so-called refusal to allow glorious England to wear a poppy on their gloriously noble white shirts. FIFA’s bigwigs won’t allow England’s players to celebrate the gross tactical ineptitude and moral degradation of Field Marshall Haig.  This year’s row doesn’t involve the clubs because the glorious Daily Mail has made sure all football clubs now wear poppies on their shirts.

Last week the glorious Daily Mail, in its role as Britain’s moral guardian,  was forced to label FIFA’s decision as “Scandalous”. According to the glorious newspaper FIFA are taking a “hardline stance” that “will further discredit” an organisation that has already faced “numerous corruption allegations in recent years and seen two of its executives depart following a bribery scandal”. Apparently “campaigners” are calling on the England players to defy the ruling.

The glorious Daily Mail then phoned up several typically irritable and easy-to-quote people to tell them of FIFA’s “hardline” decision. This news naturally aroused the ire of the people they contacted.

First they phoned Peter Hodge MBE, the former honorary general secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA):

 ‘We should not allow Fifa to dictate to us about our traditions. We fought for freedom, and that includes the right to wear a poppy.”

Then they phoned George Batt, the present general secretary of the NVA. He stated that the decision is “disgraceful” and then went further;

“I’m lost for words. I can’t see any harm in wearing a poppy. It’s so sad………..I think it’s a bit childish because, after all is said and done, if it wasn’t for us blokes, Fifa wouldn’t be here.” 

Then they phoned Patrick Mercer, a Tory MP and former Army officer, for a touch of colour and variety;

The England football team are one of our most precious and proudest assets. They should be allowed to wear national symbols whenever they want, and that includes the poppy, and no foreign organisation should tell us otherwise.

The snowball of indignation started to roll, another moral crusade had begun!!! By Monday the glorious Daily Mail had discovered that FIFA were cowering against the historical terror of the German Jackboot  ;

“Poppy ban on England kit enforced ‘in case we upset Germans’”

Those sneeky foreigners!! They’re all in cahoots to snuff out our traditional British spunk. The pressure accelerated after Monday, as Two Hundred Per Cent succinctly describes;

“But who cares what that pen-pushing pinko thinks, when there’s a jingoistic juggernaut on the move. Either stay still and be run over, or get on board and watch it magically become a bandwagon. When Prince William also joined Cameron and for a tantalizing few hours, we wondered whether, inspired by the Roses, Becks would rejoin the band and bring back the inglorious days of The Zurich Failures, ready for one last crack at breaking FIFA.”

You can always rely on a politician, in the middle of a political row, to join a bandwagon if they think the issue is sufficiently emotional. Cue Good Ole’ Dave!!!;

“The idea that wearing a poppy to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom is a political act is absurd.”

Call me weird but I expect better from my Oxford educated prime minister. I thought that he would be able to grasp the idea that freedom is a political concept.  The snowball continued rolling…..

By yesterday “The scandal of the 2011 poppy controversy” was so shocking that even ITN were on the case (I know this because their righteous indignation nearly made me throw up three times in 5 minutes.). ITV were right to be on the case because by then the combined weight of the indignation, the moralising and the sanctimonious shite had paid off;

“Fifa has agreed that the England, Scotland and Wales teams can wear poppies on black armbands during the upcoming internationals.”

Hurrah for the Daily Mail!!! Hurrah for the glorious Daily Mail, they did what they do best!!!! Everything changed because of them, the world won because of them;

“FIFA’s great poppy climbdown was the talk of football on Wednesday night as the England team were given permission to honour war heroes against Spain on Saturday.

Following a Daily Mail  campaign, world football’s governing body finally relented……”

Lawrie McMenemy was quoted. That’s Lawrie “a former guardsman and ex-England assistant manager”. The glorious Daily Mail said that Lawrie…;

“…….. praised the Daily Mail for its campaign………’It is a victory for common sense and respectability.”

The glorious Daily Mail then told us that…”England striker Darren Bent celebrated the FIFA climbdown over poppies last night by posing in a special T-shirt” (Incidentally the t-shirt is available for £20)

In light of their attitude on the matter I don’t know what’s more charming; 1) the fact the glorious Daily Mail is celebrating another moral victory or 2) the fact that the glorious Daily Mail is glorifying victory by saying  that a sportswear company has the foresight to make a quick buck out of controversy, and our war dead. Well I suppose they are celebrating their little victory over slimy and efficient Europeans, it must feel like the mid 1940s in their offices.

I don’t know if you were able to read the subtle message between the lines in this controversy but I managed to work out that FIFA were just another group of dodgy foreigners that has the audacity to try to tell the plucky British what to do.

If you actually cut through the wounded pride act of the glorious Daily Mail it seems that FIFA had quite a straightforward rule in place a few years before the Daily Mail decided to launch it’s latest crusade against the hardline stance;

“Players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. The same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.”

Call me a raging communist infidel if you like but I’ll say that don’t think this rule was written so that FIFA could prevent the British association from displaying a poppy upon their shirts. I’ll really stick my neck on this, I think the rule was written with all members and all situations in mind.

I can understand FIFA’s point of view. They have to remain impartial and they don’t want football to be “used” to make the wrong kind of message. To FIFA the Remembrance period won’t have the same resonance as it does in Britain. The poppy, Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day probably look like just another commemoration.

If a precedent is made by allowing one commemoration then others commemorations will have to be allowed. Imagine the fall out if more contentious commemorations were allowed. What if the Armenian team wanted to commemorate the Armenian massacre, or the Greek Cypriots wanted to commemorate the Turkish invasion, or the Northern Irish team wanted to commemorate July the 12th. All three of those examples would obviously offend certain groups. What if a nefarious regime wants to glorify “terrorists”? FIFA simply has to remain neutral.

I’ll admit I can see the point of groups that want people to wear the poppy. We should remember the victims of the world wars. However this is the limit of my agreement with them, the emphasis of my thinking is the sacrifice of millions in two world wars . We should remember the needless slaughter of the Western Front. We should remember that it took the sacrifice of two generations for our government to attempt to make Britain become a genuinely fairer society. The emphasis of the glorious Daily Mail’s thinking is reminding the sausage-guzzling bosche that we won two world wars and one world cup. 

You could argue that if football teams wear manufacturers logos (symbols that are connected to a capitalist world view and therefore political) and national symbols (the crest of national associations are inherently political) on their shirts then it’s difficult to see what is wrong with commemorating the war dead of the twentieth century. FIFA are not above commemorating Nigerian dictators so you wonder why they are being so picky.

While I can see both sides of the dispute it is a bullshit dispute.  To turn the issue into corrupt Johnny Foreigner bashing, or overpaid footballer bashing, or any other scapegoat bashing is unseemly and disrespectful to “those that dies for our freedom” – the very people who the glorious Daily Mail are trying to commemorate.

Why should the English team have to wear the poppy on their shirts? Why isn’t it enough that the poppy is worn on suits and tracksuits? Why should they be placed under pressure? I sense that the Daily Mail have overblown things because of the reaction of the British Legion (the group that organises the poppy appeal) to FIFA’s decision. The decision hasn’t caused many problems for them ;

“We appreciate that showing support is not always possible under some regulations and we would never seek to impose ourselves in these situations.”

They reinforced this message yesterday;

“There are other ways to honour the poppy than by wearing it on a shirt.”

We need to be careful with the use of the poppy symbol because some sections of our society are not content to let the poppy remain as a simple symbol of remembrance. As we have seen this week Britain’s right-wing media have exerted a degree of unseemly pressure upon the people of Britain. Now we all have to be seen wearing a poppy and groups and organisations are under pressure to display the requisite “respect”.

This pressure is disconcerting and has little to do with the symbolic status of the poppy. The pressure to wear the poppy is now about showing how proud you are of being British and how much you support the actions of our armed forces. To the right wing press  if you’re not wearing the poppy you might as well want the Taliban to blow up all of the hospitals in London.

We can’t allow the Daily Mail and Murdoch’s tabloid to dictate the agenda on these matters because their so-called noble crusades have two agendas that are less than noble; securing market share and scoring political points. As someone on the When Saturday Comes message the poppy is more than a symbol for the right wing to use;

“The poppy, as much as it was about raising money, was about saying No More Wars, No More Militarism, No More Arms Races, No More Policy Built On the Interests Of The Many And Not The Few, No More Diplomatic Chicanery.”

If you think that the glorious Daily Mail’s poppy crusade  is an isolated example think again. Consider the way they became involved with the Normandy Veterans’ Association (NVA) over their 65th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings and you will have another example of how they do things.

The NVA quite rightly needed funding for their 65th Commemoration of D-Day trip so  the glorious Daily Mail got on Labour’s case;

“D-Day veterans will be denied Government help to make a pilgrimage to the beaches of Normandy to mark the 65th anniversary of the landings next year, it emerged tonight……….”

Once the Daily Mail were involved the help of the government wasn’t needed, the group could raise the money themselves. The Daily Mail could claim both a victory for their campaign and they then had a stick with which could whack Labour with ; “Aren’t Labour bad, look at the suburban liberal mafia, they don’t understand you”

“Britain’s D-Day veterans will receive the respect and support they deserve during this summer’s 65th anniversary after Gordon Brown finally threw the full weight of Government behind the ‘great generation of heroes’.

In a resounding victory for the Daily Mail’s campaign, Downing Street tacitly admitted ministers had misjudged the public mood in refusing to help.

The Royal Family is now expected to play a full part in this year’s events both in France and Britain, while Mr Brown will travel to Normandy on June 6 where he will be joined by other ministers and military service chiefs.”

Other media outlets could follow in the Daily Mail’s wake, and help to shower them with praise;

“The Normandy Veterans Association said it would not accept the money at this late stage.

It said it had almost raised enough with the help of a national newspaper (The Daily Mail)…………….

“There is no way in the world I am going to agree with the National Lottery standing up and saying they sent our veterans to Normandy in the 65th anniversary,” he said.

“The people of this country have put the money together and the veterans this year will be going to Normandy with the blessing and the appreciation of the British people and there is no way, that 10 weeks before the kick-off, that they are going to take the credit for this.”

It didn’t matter that “The MoD had previously said it was policy to provide funding only to commemorate 25th, 50th, 60th and 100th anniversaries of nationally important events.” It didn’t matter this agreement had obviously been made decades ago, the glorious Daily Mail had the scent of Labour blood in its nostrils and they won!!!

This shows what we’re up against; we’re being lectured on historical matters by newspapers using a heady mix of right-wing one-upmanship and political point scoring to a barrel-scraping level. We’re being told how to think by papers that seize the moral high ground simply to sell shed loads of newspapers.

When you look at the historical behaviour of the Daily Mail and Murdoch’s tabloid this attitude becomes even more disgusting.

Murdoch’s tabloid trumpets “Armed Forces Day” and the “Millies”. They claim to “Stand up for Britain!!” as if they invented patriotism yet they inflict puerile “journalism” on the British people, they spy on the British people and they refuse to apologise for the disgusting lies they peddle to the British people.

Then there’s the shrieking voice of middle class worry, the glorious Daily Mail. How they can justify taking the side of the ordinary decent working class British soldiers heroes, our great heroes of the past (heroes that have been let down by the craven liberal elite), is actually beyond my ken. The audacity with which they lecture people in their hectoring tone of injured decency is quite frankly disgusting in the light of their historical conduct.

Today the Daily Mail says that we must honour the war dead. In world war one they helped create the anti-German atmosphere with their coverage. Coverage like this led to hundreds of thousands of men joining up to die in the trenches;

When it came to the 1930s, the owner of Daily Mail, Lord Rothermere, rather liked fascism. He famously wrote a piece entitled; “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!!” and he was quite pally with Hitler;

The last paper we need lecturing us on how to relate to historical events is the historically fascist Daily Mail.

You see the effects of the right-wing pressure everywhere; in the things that people say, in the tone of the way that people say things, in the way people act. The pressure generally leads to a lack of thought, assumptions and emotional outbursts like Jack Wilshire’s;

“My great-grandad fought for this country in WW2 and I’m sure a lot of people’s grandparents did.

“England team should wear poppies on Saturday. It’s the nation’s tradition and it would be disrespectful not to.”

This would make every England footballer disrespectful for the last 80 years  Jack. The pressure can lead to far worse, horribly racist shite like this……………;

……. and it has also created public space for the horrible EDL racist cunts to have their say and try to claim legitimacy;

In case you’re wondering this prick has invaded FIFA’s HQ– if only there’d been a gust of wind……..

We must prevent the use of the poppy in this way. It cannot be co-opted by the right. If the poppy is anything it is an anti-war symbol.

Let us return to poppies upon football shirts. The pressure cause on this matter by the right-wing press is the latest way they can spread their poison and falsify history to suit their world view. They give the impression that the pressure to wear the poppy is historical but the pressure is a modern creation, and it’s their modern creation. I don’t remember poppies appearing on football shirts at all until a few years ago. I certainly don’t remember this happening in International matches.  For example;

“England did not wear poppies for games close to Remembrance Day against Argentina on 12 November, 2005 and Sweden on 10 November, 2001.”

The first team that I remember wearing poppies on their shirts was the New Zealand Rugby team of about 4-5 years ago. I think this may have had something to with a 90th anniversary (Gallipoli? The Armistice?)

In the past there simply wasn’t the same pressure on football clubs to have poppies on their shirts, not even after the world wars of the twentieth century. This seems odd as the way Daily Mail have tried to portray things but there was no pressure to wear a poppy on football shirts. This was even the case directly after the world wars, the time when you’d assume that there would be a greater willingness to highlight the sacrifice and to remember the loss of life.

This situation is similar to the anti-German hostility that idiots indulge in. You’d think that this feeling was historical after the wars and everything.  There’s a distinct atmosphere that everybody must hate the “Krauts”. Those “’orrible, dour, efficient krauts, with Zere Zenze of humour by-passes and zere brown shirts in ze closet” but just after the 1966 world cup win there wasn’t much anti-German hostility.

The final argument against the pressure is the way the clubs have sought to act to placate the Daily Mail’s pressure. The poppies are not embroidered on to the shirts they are heat-pressed transfers. 

This is a shoddy way to commemorate the war dead. The heat-pressed poppies show maximum respect in the maximum comfort without endangering athletic performance.This display cheapens the effort, it’s like the poppy campaign has to fit around the needs of the professional footballer. There’s no thought, or consideration needed, people just need to go along with it to stop people moaning at them.

Finally, I usually wear a poppy as a memorial to the slaughter of the millions in world war one trenches. I see the poppy as a memorial to the men butchered because their officers treated them as nothing more than cannon fodder to be wasted in a war that solved nothing. The situation about wearing poppies is well put by Two Hundred Percent again;

“One of those values was freedom, which at its base must, surely, mean the freedom to choose. That includes the freedom of fans to choose whether to support or not foreign policy actions in their own way at a time of their choosing rather than find they’ve gone to watch a sporting event and become co-opted in military boosterism. It should include the freedom of players to not be compelled to remember fallen in wars that have no meaning to them, or carry very different meanings due to their nationality. Maybe some would like to wear a white poppy (unlikely), or no poppy at all (likelier).”

I cannot stomach this pressure any more so I won’t be wearing one this year.




One response

18 11 2011
You never notice quiet morons do you? « Llandudno Jet Set

[…] For example two issues on which I wrote recent posts (the racist abuse of Stan Collymore  and the misappropriation and misinterpretation of the poppy.) became connected the other day via le method du jour; the plague of stupidity using […]

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