Lest We Forget: No Place For BNP in Poppy Day Remembrance

As we approach November 11th, the BNP is again trying to exploit the annual British Legion Poppy Day. As Griffin points out on his party's site,

  • British National Party supporters must make an extra effort to assist the national Poppy Day appeal as poppy-sellers to help avert the worker-shortage crisis for that charity, BNP leader Nick Griffin has said.
This is a repeat of last year when the BNP tried to hijack the Remembrance Day for their own odious political ends. Whilst many people still feel a little uneasy in wearing the poppy these days - In the 80s, I used to have a complimentary white one, hastily made with tippex and guaranteed to produce head-clearing effects in warm rooms - what with Iraq and the debate over Haig, I do feel that it should be maintained. Death is death whatever the battlefield.

In 2003 - as reported by the Wakefield Express - wreaths were used as placards for the BNP:
  • Incensed bystanders at Sunday's service at the Rishworth Street memorial watched as a BNP representative marched up to lay a wreath under the guise of East Ardsley Conservative Club.
    Horrified dignitaries quickly realised what the wreath stood for and it was immediately removed.
  • And a wreath bearing the BNP logo was also placed at a memorial in Horbury with a note which read 'You fought bravely to keep this country for your own. Rest in Peace. Now it's our turn'.
    Both wreaths caused distress to war veterans and members of the public.
Earlier this year, ex-BNP councillor, Tony Bamber put out a leaflet - later deemed insufficiently inflammatory for prosecution - demanding Muslims apologise for the heroin trade and making the bizarre claim that before the 'Islamic invasion, it was almost impossible to find heroin here' . In addition to this vile hate-mongering, he saw fit to call his band 'Preston Pals' in a blatant attempt to link to a famous WWI volunteer force. Lancaster Unity add,
  • Bamber, in keeping with the BNP's long-established tradition of jumping on any available bandwagon, formed a fictitious group a couple of years back, which he called the 'Preston Pals', a reference to the company of volunteers from Preston who were eventually formed into 'D' company, 7th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, to fight in World War I.
The British Legion, hopefully, will not forget what was said at the time:
  • The Royal British Legion (RBL) has roundly condemned this misappropriation of the name by the BNP, with its spokesman Patrick Leavey saying; '[The Preston Pals] sacrifice should not be besmirched by people engaged in political campaigning for such an ugly cause. We condemn this leaflet, its contents, and those who are disseminating it'.
In 2007, the Sunday Mail in Scotland was appalled at the hijack attempt,
  • Jim Panton, chief executive of Poppyscotland, said: "I had no idea the BNP have tried to get involved in the Poppy Appeal.

    "It's outrageous for any organisation or group to try to hijack the poppy for their own benefit or gain.

    "It is a misuse and misrepresentation of the sentiment of the appeal and we would take a strong line against that.

    "We are apolitical and have not asked any party to back us."

No doubt people will tell me that these people are individuals and have the freedom to do as they please, and that help is help. The Royal British Legion does not seem to share this view:
  • Neil Griffiths, of the Royal British Legion Scotland, said: "We abhor any association with the BNP. I worked most ofmy military career with Gurkhas and feel angry by any level of racism when I encounter it.

    "The BNP seem to have forgotten that the Indian Army in the Second World War had two million members.

    "It was the biggest volunteer army in military history and it played a huge role in the war."

And there we have it. Whilst other political parties attend cenotaphs and lay wreaths, overtly provocative ones like those from the BNP are not wanted. A party that would not let Indians join has no place on a day when sacrifices are remembered; a party that has produced a so-called White History resource cannot stand next to someone remembering slaughtered skin of all colours.

It barely needs stating of the sacrifice made in one particular conflict against the very credo the BNP is connected to but tries to distance itself from. This is another attempt to gain legitimacy and the RBL should be firm, notwithstanding the ageing membership and dearth of volunteers. Poppies are still prevalent in pubs, shops and offices and I for one will be wearing one.