Published: 17/11/2017 13:00 - Updated: 16/11/2017 14:59

White poppy ban still in place in Inverness

Written byIain Ramage


Bob Kelsey
Bob Kelsey says the sale of white poppies hits funds going to ex-servicemen.

A BAN on white poppies during Remembrance Day services at the war memorial in Inverness appears likely to continue, much to the delight of critics of the controversial symbol.

There was a suggestion – and some confusion – prior to last Sunday’s annual event that the city’s branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland had lifted the ban.

No white poppies featured on the day, which pleased former Devonshire Regiment colour sergeant Bob Kelsey who has called for Green MSP John Finnie to resign for promoting them.

The Highlands and Islands politician opted for white above the traditional red variety, as "a symbol of pacifism".

According to the Peace Pledge Union which distributes them, "white poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war".

It insists there is nothing to stop someone wearing a white poppy "while also donating to a charity to help those wounded in war".

The organisation claims sales of white poppies have risen to about 100,000 a year.

The profits go into "education and campaigning work promoting non-violent approaches to conflict and challenging militarism".

Mr Kelsey (86), who served in the 1940s in Malaya and Kenya, said: "I’m annoyed because the sales of white poppies are reducing income for the legion which helps ex-service people.

"I find it really insulting that they’re allowed to sell white poppies at the same time the legion is selling its red ones. If they’re going to sell the white ones it should be in a different month of the year.

"A white poppy, to me, is for cowards. They’re insulting British servicemen who died in conflict. John Finnie should resign because of this insult."

Mr Finnie, the grandson of a Seaforth Highlander, last week heralded what, at the time, was thought to have been a lifting of the Sunday service ban.

He declined to respond to Mr Kelsey’s criticism but explained last week that he felt the red poppy had been "hijacked by those less focused on remembering fallen service personnel than promoting militarism."

No white poppies were laid during Sunday’s service at Cavell Gardens but some appeared later, as permitted by the local branch of the legion.

A spokesman for RBL Scotland said: "On completion of the wreath-laying ceremony, the area was checked and no white poppies were present.

"Any that were laid were done so after the parade and the service was completed – we have no control over that."

The white emblem was first promoted in 1933 by the Co-operative Women’s Guild "worried by the growing militarisation of remembrance events and the detachment between the red poppy and the need to work for peace".

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