Poppies are not patriotic. They are worn to remember the terrible slaughter of war, irrespective of the poor victims’ nationalities. For this reason it’s wrong for the International Football Association to ban players’ wearing them for international matches; but equally wrong for this decision to be objected to on patriotic grounds. Unfortunately that was the argument of one Tory minister six years ago; to which I responded with this letter to the Guardian:
‘“Wearing a poppy,” writes our sports minister to Fifa, “is a display of national pride, like wearing your country’s football shirt” (Report, Sport, 9 November). I have worn a poppy at this time of year for as long as I can remember. For me it has always been in sad remembrance of the slain of two world wars, with no shred of nationalism attaching to it. Talk of “national pride” and “football shirts” cheapens the gesture. If this is what it really signifies, I shall not wear one again.’
I am wearing one this year, believing that most people share my interpretation. But in sorrow and sympathy; not with any particular ‘pride’.