What’s so funny about peace, love and white poppies?

I SEE that the Whitby author GP Taylor is stirring up poppy trouble.

Taylor is a man of interesting parts as other selves line up behind his most famous role as the best-selling author of Shadowmancer. In his time, he has been a rock band roadie, a policeman and a vicar.

You can add to that another distraction, that of newspaper commentator. In his column for the Yorkshire Post, Taylor offers his view on white poppies. It’s fair to say that he isn’t impressed.

“Remembrance is increasingly being seen as a glorification of violence, tinged with the toxic aroma of ardent nationalism,” he writes or possibly even fumes.

Opinions on this may differ. My own fuming comes from an alternative direction, but I suspect that remembrance is more truly best seen as an excuse for people to exercise their opinions, whatever side of the trench they lie.

The newspapers at this time of year are filled with poppy rows, as was being discussed on this ledge only last week. The nonsense poppy row is almost now a tradition all on its own.

Anyway, Taylor isn’t finished yet, writing: “The snowflake generation look at those who made the ultimate sacrifice as savages who died for nothing.”

The snowflake generation is a term of abuse used to characterise young people who are too easy to take offence, or at least I think it is. It’s a bit of Daily Mail-style lingo I don’t particularly wish to flourish.

Taylor has many strong thoughts on poppies and snowflakes, but his main ire is reserved for white poppies. He writes that these are “being forced on children, supported by teaching unions”.

I have no idea about the truth of this, although a quick Google points to a story last month in the Daily Telegraph. White poppies are promoted by the Peace Pledge Union, which is said to have signed up 100 teachers who belong to the National Union of Teachers.

Perhaps this is what lit the fire under Taylor’s kettle. He also has a pop at “our rabidly PC culture” – one of those handy phrases to cut and out keep for a cross day. I guess that the political correctness or otherwise of our culture is a matter of taste, but sweeping generalisations are always useful in a newspaper column.

Taylor offers a proudly robust defence of the red poppy and all it represents. He says he has always believed that the red poppy honours all lives lost in all wars – something disputed by supporters of the white poppy, who insist the red poppy only remembers our own fallen.

In fairness, Taylor does acknowledge that the white poppy “represents peace and all those who have died in conflict”, pointing out the role of the Peace Pledge Union.

What he forgets to mention, perhaps because it doesn’t fit his thesis – and we’ve all done that, selecting those bits of the truth we fancy – is that the white poppy is 80 years old. It’s not a modern, politically correct poppy but an alternative poppy almost as old as the traditional red one.

I have never worn a white poppy, possibly never even seen one. But I’d be happy to buy one if I saw them for sale.

The colour of a poppy shouldn’t matter, but sadly the red poppy – as worn proudly by many, perhaps with a tear in their eye – has become red meat to those who wish to complain about modern life. It’s forced on anyone who appears in a BBC studio, for fear of a causing a row, creating a weird sort of poppy panic.

Yet arguing about the colour of poppies seems to me to be a form of disrespect to all the dead we remember, however or whenever they died. But perhaps I am just an ancient sort of snowflake.


  1. Hate that term, the Snowflake Generation. Tarring all with one brush. Whose generation produced the snowflakes? Why, It was G P Taylor’s. Offensive, isn’t it?

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