Pacifist white poppies make record sales as red flower increasingly ‘militarized’

© Toby Melville
White poppy sales have hit a record high this year, with manufacturers of the peace symbol suggesting the militaristic overtones of the traditional red flower worn to commemorate Britain’s war dead have put people off.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) says many orders could not be fulfilled as more than 110,000 were bought in shops, cafes and online orders.

PPU coordinator Symon Hill apologized to those unable to get a white poppy this year, but said the spike in sales is a positive sign.

The last time we sold out was in the mid-80s when Margaret Thatcher made a statement in parliament expressing deep distaste for the white poppies,” Hill told the Guardian.

That led to the Daily Star attacking the white poppy campaign and we sold all our poppies. But back then that was 40,000.

Hill said many Twitter users who used the #whitepoppy hashtag said they feel the official remembrance ceremony is becoming increasingly militarized.

Many of those who were commenting were talking about a rise in hate crime and racism and how they wanted to wear something different to symbolize their opposition to all that this year.

A row broke out in the run up to this year’s remembrance commemorations over FIFA rules banning the incorporation of the poppy on English and Scottish football strips.

Protesting the ban, both teams donned black armbands bearing poppies for their Armistice Day clash at Wembley Stadium on November 11, despite FIFA’s insistence its rule governing ‘political’ symbols would not be changed.

The English Football Association issued a statement confirming it would defy the ruling.

We fully respect the laws of the game and take our founding role on the International Football Association Board extremely seriously,” it read.

The poppy is an important symbol of remembrance and we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historical event.