Radical political analysis, commentary and discussion in Wales
Dadansoddiad a thrafodaeth radicalaidd o wleidyddiaeth yng Nghymru
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White poppies make history in Newport

The outbreak of red poppy fascism across the British media is alarming. The red poppy has morphed into some kind of corporate uniform to the point that it seems improbable that anyone attempting to enter the BBC last week, without said appendage, would be turned away.

Do the wearers understand what they are doing? Have they given it even a modicum of independent thought? Have they considered the White Poppy for peace?

I do not want to take anything away from the British Legion whose work in picking up the pieces of the war ravaged is very important, but I do wish to say that war is not the glorious sacrifice we are taught it to be. Today’s wars are about resources, destabilisation of sovereign states, and big big money. The military /industrial complex cannot wait to do their version of ‘picking up the pieces’. The lucrative rebuilding contracts are the icing on the cake for the mega corporations who have already creamed off the tax-payer subsidised weapons manufacturing industry. The arms trade rub their collective hands with perverse glee as they watch the built-in obsolescence of their products obliterating countries where they personally have no chance of being harmed. Killing, maiming, genetically mutilating, destroying, indiscriminate and arbitrary execution - no weapon or tactic is too abhorrent to use. More bombs and tanks can easily be made – and sold - to governments who continue the relentless cycle in cruel denial of basic truths and human rights. Today’s wars are not the honourable red poppy event of misty-eyed valour they have been painted to be. Today’s wars are about as far from courageous self-defence as you can get.

As independent thought is being ground out of us, conflict resolution is shunned. Research into what makes a good peace is cast into the wilderness and the proposed Wales Peace Academy languishes in the back rooms of despair together with those great thinkers who know there is a better way. Peace has been given a bad name because there is no money in it for the greedy few.

In the face of unrelenting moves to ever more vile wars, peace campaigners in Newport have resurrected the White Poppy, and it is to the credit of the British Legion in Newport that for the first time, possibly anywhere, the White Poppy wreath was laid as part of the official remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph in Clarence Place. For just one moment it was possible to think that the laying of White Poppy wreaths would no longer be a clandestine activity, as if peace was not to be talked about in polite circles and White Poppy wreaths laid only at dead of night. For one moment Peace was actually up front and on the agenda.

The Peace Pledge Union have this year sold more white poppies than any time since 1934. When they bother to consider the reality, people are thinking differently about war.