My Name is Legion: The British Legion and the control of Remembrance

Abstract

In this paper Ron Tweedy, a war veteran actively working for peace, explores how the Royal British Legion’s status as the self-appointed 'national custodian of Remembrance' has been compromised through its collaboration with some of the world’s most controversial arms dealers, its increasingly militarised presentation of Remembrance, and its commercialised and trivialising corporatisation of the poppy “brand”.

It draws on the work of a number of journalists, campaign groups, veterans, and religious organisations who have expressed concern at the direction the Legion is taking, and asks whether the charity is still fit to be the “national custodian of Remembrance”.

One striking manifestation of the synergy between the British Legion and the British arms trade is its relationship with BAE Systems, who in 2003 not only funded sales of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Libya, and the Middle East, but also the RBL’s annual Remembrance events. As the Telegraph noted, “a decision by British defence manufacturer BAE Systems to sponsor this year’s Poppy Day has been likened to ‘King Herod sponsoring a special day reserved to prevent child cruelty’”.

The increasing involvement of the arms trade in the Legion’s activities also coincides with a much more coercive and aggressive ‘in-your-face’ campaigning style that the Legion has adopted in recent years, as many journalists and veterans have noticed.

This research paper is published by Veterans for Peace UK and is republished by Ekklesia here with their permission.

The report My Name is Legion: The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance can be downloaded here (*PDF Adobe Acrobat document).