When I was a young Leftie, I used to wear my Poppy. Now I don't. It's too clear that wearing a Poppy now has nothing to do with remembering the past and everything to do with asserting something in the present.
At the heart of it there is this, that the Poppy has been hijacked by the political class.They may be stupid, they may be corrupt, they may have sent service personnel to pointless deaths in ill-conceived campaigns - but, when the chips are down, they want you to think they are all in the same boat together. And, look, it's a Patriotic one!
And if you don't wear your Poppy, then the bully boys will finger you.
As for remembering the past, which the BBC encourages us to do, it is about old men's memories of heroism and sacrifice and not about the stupidity, the corruption, the callousness of previous political classes. The most memorable fact about the First World War is that it didn't end with every single Minister and General swinging from the lamp posts.
As for World War two, I was reading Matthew Sweet's West End Front. In Chapter Two, I learnt that when the London Blitz began, the Government at first declined to open the London Underground at night to provide Air Raid shelters. At the same time, luxury London hotels already had deep shelters constructed in their basements where their guests could find safety during air raids. Only pressure from Communist agitators in the East End (where most of the bombs were falling) opened the Underground at night.
They had only to make a very simple point: All In It Together? How come then that at the Ritz and the Savoy they have deep shelters and here in the East End, we have only surface shelters? (Anderson shelters and such like). A couple of thousand East Enders died before the Underground was opened.
Reblogged, with some editing, from this site where it appeared on 12 November 2011