Mike Ion has written a piece on LabourList today where he takes Jon Snow to task for his comments about "poppy fascism". Snow said:
I am begged to wear an Aids ribbon, a breast cancer ribbon, a Marie Curie flower...You name it, from the Red Cross to the RNIB, they send me stuff to wear to raise awareness, and I don't. And in those terms, and those terms alone, I do not and will not wear a poppy. Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'he damned well must wear a poppy!' Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air.
Mike says he is a big fan of Jon's but thinks he is wrong on this:
What is wrong with wearing a "symbol" on air? Why not make an exception? Jon's logic appears to be: "I can't publicly promote all of the causes that I am asked to support so I will not support any of them." This is a bit like arguing that because I can't give to all of the charities that ask for my help I won't give to any charity.The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. We do not diminish anyone by wearing it, least of all the veterans. Diminishing the debt we owe our predecessors would be accomplished by resigning ourselves to the notion that we cannot comprehend what happened. We undermine the notion of Remembrance Day by lack of reflection, not flippantly wearing, or not wearing, a poppy.
I am afraid that I do not agree with the final line of the above paragraph. We do not undermine the notion of Remembrance Day by not wearing a poppy. The wearing or not wearing of one is individual choice and there may be many reasons why people choose not to. It doesn't mean they are not respectful of the sacrifice our soldiers have made. As it happens, me and my wife always buy poppies around this time of year and wear them. We will also be attending a Remembrance Day service on Sunday. However I fully respect other people's right to decide for themselves what they want to wear and I do not judge them if they choose not to.
The problem is that what ends up happening is that people are then criticised for not wearing a poppy and pressure is put on them to do so. I saw a little snapshot of this happen during PMQs last week. I was live tweeting it and started to notice a few tweets saying things like "Harriet Harman is not wearing a poppy" and "Where is Jack Straw's poppy?". This annoyed me and I did a couple of tweets questioning this sort of "poppy tyranny" as I described it. Harman and Straw may well have had reasons for not wearing one. It was still a couple of weeks before Remembrance Day for example. Perhaps they had just forgotten. Perhaps it was on their other jacket. I don't know and frankly it is none of my business.
Everybody should be left to make their own decisions about this.