For all the furore about the red poppy symbol not being political, it obviously is. It comemorates the dead of the British military only and is organised by the Royal British Legion, who support families of servicemen and women.
Any act of remembrance on Remembrance Day or homage on Armistice Day is to the military alone, not the so-called enemies, the many innocents who have died or the freedom-fighters who have fought against the British Empire.
With Armed Forces Day coming a week before, the whole week has been a show of British propaganda. There is the assumption throughout the media that British armed forces have fought for freedom. Many presenters and newsreaders used the phrase 'those who have given their lives for freedom', as if it couldn't be questioned.
Yet, in the 1st World War many were conscripts and this war was singularly futile, as those great anti-war poets Owen, Sassoon, Rosenborg and Read showed us so vividly.
In fact, Friday's Newsnight programme was particularly absurd as it introduced newly-found poems by Siefried Sassoon. An extract from one of these 1916 poems shows a triumphalist fervour more akin to Rupert Brooke, with lines like 'A host of swords in harmony.'
Sassoon's biographer Dr. Moorcroft Wilson then went on to talk about him as if he were some kind of heroic soldier-poet. However, early poems from the trenches by Wilfred Owen also illustrate this gung-ho spirit ( the key word in the Sassoon extract is surely 'sword', when bombs and gas were all around them). Wilson failed to even mention Sassoon's scathingly bitter and satirical poems which influenced Owen so much.
Sassoon received a Military Cross which he later threw in the river Mersey as a protest against the 'Great' War. He had a Soldier's Declaration read out in the House of Commons decrying the war and was then dispatched to Craiglockhart Hospital for psychiatric treatment.
The idea that the British military could actually be a force used against freedom hasn't even been entertained, as platitudes abound. Of course , there have been numerous struggles against imperialism from Cyprus to Ireland, which depict this starkly,but it must be remembered, we in Cymru have suffered, at crucial times in our history, under British military oppression.
When David Cameron argues that the red poppy is apolitical and then goes on to say ' it's about the pride of the nation-state', let us remember the working-classes of Wales killed by British troops, as they have fought for their rights.
From the Merthyr Rising of 1831, when they opened fire on unarmed crowds fighting against poverty and cruel ironmasters, through the Newport Uprising of 1839 when the Chartists were struggling for fundamental rights such as suffrage and on to Llanelli and Tonypandy in 1910-11 when the army was sent in to destroy strikes; the army was an instrument of brutality by that very nation-state.
I am reluctant to wear a white one, as much as I'd like to. The white poppy is associated with pacificism and the Peace Pledge Union, who in the 1920s requested that the British Legion add 'No More War' to their poppies and the request was refused. As I am not a pacifist, it would be hypocritical.
Ideally, all conflicts should be resolved though talk, as the one in n. Ireland was eventually ( though some would say, it is still unresolved with the very existence of the six counties).
In reality, however, I would certainly have joined the forces against Franco in the Spanish Civil War (as did George Orwell and many others) and fought alongside the Trotskyite POUM or the Anarchists. In apartheid S.Africa, there would have been no choice but to side with Mandela's ANC against the vicious, racist government there.
In our relatively relaxed situation we can sit back and pontificate about conscience; however, under a dictatorial, oppressive regime such choices are ones of luxury. Neither Franco nor the S. African government left any room for negotiation at all and ruled with the kind of police state I have only witnessed in n.Ireland.
Not the red poppies of the British military nor white of the pacifists.......not these, but others, as yet unplaced - maybe the yellow ones of my country - on the sites of the fallen who were killed at the Risings of Merthyr, Newport, Llanelli and Tonypandy.
Great night bird,
blade wings rotating,
a predator on human players
out on their missions.
I don't discriminate
between mice- and rat-men ;
I feed off their jittering,
their scurrying with packages.
My beam dominates,
seeks out suspicious movements;
I find a flash of flesh,
a couple tumbling down.
Great spy bird
with my eyes a screen,
claws belong to those patrolling,
hooked beak a pointed gun.
My call is not the rounded
vowel-echo of the owl,
but the staccato of the heart
of the dark's machine.