The Director Editorial Policy and Standards
Room 4225
BBC White City
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TS

Dear David Jordan,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Peace Pledge Union in order to ask whether BBC policy still does not allow presenters to wear white poppies instead of, or in addition to, red poppies during the remembrance period.

In 2007 you explained on the PM programme that BBC policy was to allow presenters to wear the red poppy at remembrance because of the significance of what it represents but not to allow the wearing of other symbols. In particular you said that BBC policy did not allow presenters to wear alternative remembrance symbols including the white poppy. The reason you gave for this was that the white poppy, as well as being symbolic of remembrance, signified that the wearer was a pacifist. We would challenge the consistency of this policy on two grounds.

First, the white poppy (like the red poppy) is a complex symbol with as many meanings as wearers. Although associated with a pacifist organisation, many (probably most) wearers of white poppies are not pacifists. Indeed many non-pacifists wear a white poppy to represent their thoughts about war at remembrance time in a similar way to how many people wear the red poppy.

Second, the red poppy, like the white poppy, is produced by an organisation that has a particular agenda and is also a symbol which is strongly associated with a political position on the armed forces. This association is evident in the media coverage each year and so, we would argue, is stronger than the association of pacifism with the white poppy because there is so little media coverage of the white poppy and what it represents to its many wearers. Just because the majority of people believe that war is justified, even inevitable, in certain circumstances does not make this position any less political than the minority view that resort to wars is never appropriate.

We hope that you will change the policy of the BBC so as to allow the wearing of white poppies by presenters, if you have not changed it already. We would urge you to promote an atmosphere in the BBC in which presenters feel free to wear a red poppy, a  white poppy, or both or neither. We are writing similar letters to other UK terrestrial television news services and we encourage you and the BBC to take a lead on this that others can follow.

No reply has been received from the BBC.

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