This year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is even more poignant this year as we mark the centenary of the “Great War”. The appeal was first launched to assist those returning from those brutal World War One battlefields and has remained to serve as a vital reminder of the sacrifices made. Crucially it raises funds to support wounded and disabled service men and women, bereaved families, young veterans adjusting to life back on Civvy Street and their elderly compatriots who may need assistance with age-related life issues.
The poppy is the powerful and evocative symbol that lies at the heart of the campaign. Witness the extraordinary – and extraordinarily moving – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.
Quite rightly the Royal British Legion seeks to protect the integrity of the poppy because of what it stands for, its symbolism and importance as the visual identifier of its most important fundraising initiative. Sadly every year Britain’s far right denigrate the poppy and what it stands by appropriating it to promote their ugly and divisive politics, not least by spreading lies, through falsehoods, scare stories.
Each year they also seek to profit financially from the poppy, either individually or for their organisation. Take as an example an outfit called Patriot Wear UK, brainchild of David Roocroft, co-founder with wife Sara of the notorious foaming far right group, the British Patriots Society which was also linked to former Manchester-based EDL big cheese, Steve Simmons (to whom its original website domain is still registered). Patriot Wear was caught out this week ripping off the poppy and Lest We Forget, the line from Kipling’s Recessional poem which is so strongly associated with the appeal.
This purveyor of poorly ripped off tat – which does not appear to be registered at Companies House – is offering the embroidered hoody below and, as you’ll see, had no intention of donating proceeds to the RBL Poppy Appeal.
Called out on this on its Facebook page Patriot Wear tried to cover its tracks whilst backpedalling furiously and banning those who had pointed out its profiteering. Its original Facebook sales pitch was clumsily edited to include a reference to 10% – just 10% – of profits going to the RBL
As the Patriot Wear UK website is registered to David Roocroft EDL News is calling on him to apologise to the RBL for hijacking its campaign for personal gain and to donate every single penny of profit to the Poppy Appeal. Over to you David.
Elsewhere far right groups are doing their best to undermine the appeal by disseminating obvious falsehoods. The openly fascist North West Infidels this week posted some nonsense about young man being attacked in Bolton for “wearing a poppy” whilst the EDL in Mansfield Woodhouse sought to stretch the credulity of its readily gullible supporters with campaign against a local taxi firm. Hopefully Avon & Somerset Police are investigating this smear and accompanying harassment. A page admin helpfully signed off the post so no need to call in Morse chaps.
Then there has been the widely documented case of the veteran poppy seller at a Morrison’s store in Taunton. After Morrisons was accused of forcing the 89 year old to collect outside of its store, the RBL was moved to issue a statement to counter the misinformation perpetuated by the far right and some elements of the press. The charity told the Western Gazette that: “On the first day of collecting for the Poppy Appeal 2014 Legion collectors were offered positions both inside and outside the Morrisons in Taunton and chose the outside position as there was a higher footfall.
“We are grateful to Morrisons, as we are to all commercial outlets, who permit Poppy Appeal collections on their sites throughout the UK and in doing so strengthen our fundraising efforts so the legion can continue to offer vital support and care to the Armed Forces community.
“Our collectors will continue to be on site in Morrison’s in Taunton until the end of the Poppy Appeal, so please do visit them to make a donation.”