Poll finds majority of public want to remember all nationalities on Remembrance Sunday

By agency reporter
October 17, 2019

An opinion poll conducted by Populus has revealed that 83 per cent of UK adults agree that “Remembrance Sunday should involve remembering people of all nationalities who have died in war”.

This is a principle usually associated with white poppies, which are produced by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), while red poppies focus only on casualties from the UK and its allies.

Even more people – 86 per cent - believe that civilians killed in war should be remembered alongside armed forces personnel. In addition, 85 per cent agreed that “Remembrance Sunday should primarily have a message of peace”.

The Royal British Legion, producers of the red poppy, does not accept that remembrance should include people of all nationalities.

The Royal British Legion announced on 15 October 2019 that they were including civilians in Remembrance for the first time, a position long supported by the PPU. The British Legion’s website on Remembrance now states, “We acknowledge innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism”. Up until last year, the Legion insisted that Remembrance Sunday should be concerned only with UK and allied armed forces personnel. The PPU welcomed the change, while saying that much greater change is needed.  It is not clear whether the new position includes only British civilians. 

In the light of the poll, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) called on the government and local authorities to ensure that Remembrance events consider both civilian and military victims of war of all nationalities, and focus on building peace rather than on celebrating military marches.

Geoff Tibbs, Remembrance Project Manager at the Peace Pledge Union, said: "It is now clear that the British public want a more inclusive Remembrance that carries a message of peace, and this has always been the message of the white poppy. Most people now reject the nationalist narrative of Remembrance that focuses overwhelmingly on the British military. 

"Politicians and local communities should not be afraid to put peace and inclusivity at the centre of Remembrance events this year. We encourage them to explicitly commemorate people of all nationalities, including civilians."

The poll was conducted by Populus, an independent company who interviewed a representative sample of the UK adult population. The Peace Pledge Union commissioned the poll but took no part in the gathering of data.

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war, a rejection of militarism and a commitment to peace. They were founded by the Women's Co-operative Guild in 1933 and are now distributed by the Peace Pledge Union. 

* Peace Pledge Union https://ppu.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.