Lest they forget: . . . but they won't. If it's a newsreader, it will be wearing a poppy where nothing else can ever be worn. Why? An inquiry from W Stephen Gilbert

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The Independent Culture
We shall soon see the annual sprouting of poppies upon the lapels of newscasters and presenters of topical television programmes. In 40 years of autumnal viewing, I can recall no single newsreader, current affairs presenter, weather-forecaster or linkperson who did not, right on cue, don a poppy. The suspicion persists that these emblems are not so much made available to the on-screen personnel as positively issued for wearing on camera. The poppy is unmistakably de rigueur.

Why not? I have no quarrel with the wearing of the emblem of Remembrance Day. But it is self-evidently an unwritten rule - indeed, for all I know, a written rule - that newsreaders and other sea-green incorruptibles may not show favours to any cause. A 'Save the Ozone Layer' button or an Aids-awareness ribbon are as unacceptable as a 'Vote Lib-Dem' rosette or a 'Bring Back Hanging' badge. Even on telethon days, newsreaders do not sport red noses.

This leads on to my second source of disquiet: the implication that Remembrance Day is universally regarded as having no political resonance.

Not so. Some regard it as glorification of obscene war, others as an unacceptable conjunction of religion and warfare. There is an argument that such a demonstration of respect for the dead sits ill with our neglect of the maimed and the bereaved - and another that the victims of 'service to their country' should be properly cared for, from public rather than charitable funds.

Those who do not appreciate poppy-wearing newsreaders may be no more numerous than, say, racists. But what would happen if a presenter turned up for work wearing an anti-racist badge? He would be told to take it off.

(Photograph omitted)

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