FAQ

1. How many white poppies are sold each year?
2. Who makes the white poppies?
3. Why do newsreaders and all who appear on live television
    wear red poppies?

4.
Where does the money go?
5. Where can I buy white poppies?





How many white poppies are sold each year?
The number of white poppies sold each year varies and appears to be influenced by people's attitudes to Britain's military adventures. Last year we distribute in the region of 50,000 white poppies via individuals as well as shops, banks, schools, colleges, churches, local authorities, the Scottish Parliament and the Canadian War Museum. Today white poppies are also available in Canada, New Zealand and Flanders. This year, 2013 we expect to distribute some 70,000.



Who makes the white poppies?
The groups that initiated the white poppies in 1933 asked the British Legion to make them so that any money raised could go towards the Legion but the Legion refused. Since then the Legion has been asked twice by the Peace Pledge Union and refused on both occasions. The white poppies are made commercially and provide employment for women who might otherwise find employment hard to find.
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Why do newsreaders and all who appear on live television wear red poppies?
You may well ask. There is a short and long answer.


BBC Breakfast show and the 'irresistible' red poppy

The short answer is that the British Legion in some quarters has 'assumed' a status that few feel able to challenge - not to wear a red poppy is to be disrespectful of those who 'gave their all' and for those who believe in this dishonest formulation social and peer pressure are enough for compliance. To a few, for a variety of reasons, the red poppy is a significant and meaningful symbol but that is not the case for most poppy wearers. It is worth noting that the red poppy is the ONLY symbol that the BBC allows to be worn on screen by newscasters, that the police allow officer to wear when in uniform; other institutions have a similar policy.
Here is what David Jordan Head of BBC Editorial Policy had to say on Red Poppies [PM November 2007]

The longer version is a journey in time and a 'heritage' makeover of WW2

In Britain the 40th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe was a turning point in public attitude to that war and war-related issues in general. The countrywide celebrations brought the war into new focus for the generation that lived through it and was now collecting or about to collect their pensions as well as to the post war generation to whom it was all ‘ancient history’.

The anniversary was attended by the publication of books about the war and reminiscences about the war; those who lived through it now wanted to make sure that young people, blissfully unaware of the grimness of war, knew something about it – how their parents bravery fought off the evil Hun and Jap. In the process the war assumed a sentimental black and white quality. Memorials to long forgotten events began springing up. The last 25 years have seen the biggest growth of ‘war memorial’ building since the end of the First World War and attendance at Remembrance Day ceremonies which has been steadily decreasing since the end of WW2 began to grow. There are a number of reasons for this, which we look at elsewhere.

As well as the memorial makers and builders all kind of groups and institutions benefit from this atmosphere, not least the Royal British Legion, who even before the latest of Britains’ wars insisted that it needed ever more money each year for what must by the nature of things be an ever declining number of ex military personnel that it cares for. Britain's recent lunatic and illegal activities in Iraq and Afghanistan inevitably entered into the Legion's fund raising message; while not actually bellicose nonetheless the Legion supports the view that war is a proper function of the state. This may not be stated as plainly as that but like the dog that did not bark in the night the absence of questions about the validity let alone morality of the government's war policies is a clue. The Legion criticised the government for the often appalling way the it treats its employees in the armed forces but it never criticises the decision which lead to the death, injury or mental instability of the people it wishes to support. The Legion would argue that that is not their business, though it could equally well be argued that issues of war and peace are every citizens business. The Legion describes itself as the 'nation's de facto custodian of Remembrance, ensuring that people remember those who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy' In other words it has taken upon itself the task of telling us how wonderful those who choose to go to war are and how much we should be grateful to them; and the 'best' way to show our gratitude is to give money to the Royal British Legion. This is moral blackmail which some support and others succumb to and pin up a red poppy. It is also simplistic and questionable whether those who 'have given their lives' did so 'for the freedom we enjoy'.

In Britain most people live in relative comfort and 'freedom' but it is not clear how somebody's death contributed to this. What freedoms are Britain's military contributing to in Iraq or Afghanistan? What freedom will be enjoyed by soldiers' death at the hands of the 'enemy', or 'friendly fire' or in accidents? What freedoms are the Iraqis and Afghans enjoying the hands of 'our brave lads'?

Here is what David Jordan Head of BBC Editorial Policy had to say on Red Poppies [PM November 2007]
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Where does the money go?
Through the white poppy our aim is primarily to raise issues. We distribute the white poppies each year to challenge the view that war and preparations for war are necessary or inevitable. Any money raised over and above the cost of producing, publicising and distributing the white poppies goes to fund our education work, some of which can be seen on our main website. Such work regrettably does not attract much funding and so we rely heavily on the generosity of people like you. Donations can be made here or if you are a UK Taxpayer you can add value to your contributions to peace education work through our associated charity the Peace Research and Education Trust . We are sure they will welcome your support.

PS Every year there is always someone, often in the media, who implies that money raised is used for some suspect activity; others categorically insists that the white poppies are '
taking money from the valuable work the British Legion is doing' and we get a lot of intemperate emails.
If you happen to hold this view why not check with the British Legion whether this is true before complaining to us.


You may also like to know that t
he Peace Pledge Union's annual turnover is similar to the annual salary (£95,000+) of the British Legion's chief executive.
| see


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Where can I buy white poppies?
The most likely place is from us here ONLINE. However there are also some places around the country where you can buy them in small quantities.

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Peace Pledge Union, 1 Peace Passage, London N7 0BT. Tel +44 (0)20 7424 9444   contact     |   where to find us