White Poppy sellers cause a stir on campus

By Ruairi O’Connor and Luke Smith

The controversial White Poppy was being sold at De Montfort University today (Nov 8th)  by two students outside the new Students’ Union Building.

The White Poppy is distributed every year to thousands of supporters by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU).


On its website, the PPU says: “There are three elements to the meaning of white poppies: they represent remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war.”

The lead distributor, Reece Stafferton, a 20-year-old Drama Student at DMU, said: “I abstain from wearing the red poppy, not because I am against remembering war victims, but mainly due to the controversy surrounding the Royal British Legion.”


White Poppy distributors Niall Webb and Reece Stafferton

He highlighted the high salary for the RBL’s Director General (Charles Byrne), which he did not think was right for a charity.

Third Sector reported that the Director General of The Royal British Legion earns over £140k per annum.

When asked whether he was against the ideologies of the Red Poppy, Mr Stafferton said: “I am against some of the militarism surrounding the Red Poppy.

“For instance, it is often pushed onto school children and supported by large organisations, like the scouts, who promote and sell it.

“The government as well holds some quite strong opinions about the Red Poppy and supports the Royal British Legion a lot more than other charities.”

Mr Stafferton added: “To me it represents all the victims of war, not just the soldiers, but the civilians too.”



  1. Peter Wynne-Willson says:

    Why on earth is a white poppy “controversial’? It is a symbol of peace, remembering all the victims of all wars. It is worn by people who are opposed to war, in preference to (or sometimes as well as) the red poppy, which is a specific memorial to british military casualties, and a contribution to one specific military charity (the British Legion, which is already a very wealthy charity). Many people wearing red poppies are opposed to war, and see their remembrance more widely than this. I do not criticise anyone for wearing one, because I appreciate most do so for very good reasons, but I know that the poppy campaign with its idea of sacrifice ‘for us’ is also a key part of the recruiting process for the British Military, and is supported by the powers that be, and by arms manufacturers who gain from the continuation of warfare, and choosing not to support that campaign is a completely reasonable decision, which anyone should be allowed to make without being stigmatised. If supporting a campaign for world peace is controversial, what does that say about the world we live in?

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