A Remembrance Day poppy wreath with a Ukip logo at its centre has sparked a furious row over accusations of using the ceremony to promote party politics.
In a move that has been described as “propaganda”, “overtly political” and “disrespectful” by other local politicians, a committee member for Ukip Plymouth laid the wreath at the Plymstock War Memorial on Monday.
Ukip denied that the wreath was a political statement, and said it had arrived with the logo already printed by the makers and Plymouth event organisers, the Royal British Legion.
But Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth’s Labour-majority city council, told BBC News it should be removed. “It is very bad taste,” he said. “We have always made Remembrance Day an apolitical event.
“Propaganda in this way is not at all the right thing in a military city which has seen a lot of war deaths.”
Ian Bowyer, leader of the council’s Conservative group, told the Plymouth Herald: “It’s so overtly political. It’s a cheap trick and disrespectful to the memory of those they are seeking to remember.”
The party has hit back, however, accusing the Conservatives and Labour of “a ploy to besmirch Ukip”.
“These are the same wreaths we laid last year and nothing was said then - but there were no elections last year,” said David Salmon, the Ukip party chairman for Plymouth and South West Devon.
“I'm boiling and furious that they're trying to score points over something as important as Remembrance Day.”
It was not the only wreath with a Ukip logo to be laid this year – the party’s small and medium business spokesman Amjad Bashir tweeted a picture of himself placing one at the war memorial in Leeds.
Mr Salmon told the BBC the Plymouth wreaths were ordered through the Royal British Legion.
“The logo may be a bit over the top, so next year I'll consider a smaller one,” he said. “But I want to retain the logo because I'm proud of what we stand for.”
The Royal British Legion's poppy factory in Richmond said wreaths were produced every year with logos for “all the mainstream political parties”. In previous years, party members have said they were asked if they want “the usual wreath ordered by political parties” – and all have had their logo pictured on a wreath at one point or other.
A statement from the national Ukip party said: “This was far from a malicious act and the local branch just thought it was the nicest way to collectively remember those who have served our country.”
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