8 Nov 2006

Why I don't wear a poppy on air

A message from last night’s duty log is not untypical. It reads: “I’m disgusted at Jon Snow for refusing to wear a poppy. He interrogates those people sitting opposite him, but refuses to answer questions on why he refuses to acknowledge those who fought on his behalf.”

The poppy issue is an interesting one – opinions are much more bitterly divided and assertively put than on any other symbol.

Fiona Bruce is to be allowed to continue to wear a crucifix, or a cross-shaped item of jewellery. I am allowed to wear unspeakably bright ties. But there’s a world of difference there that we should be assertive about.

My ties are abstract – I do not believe in wearing anything which represents any kind of statement. You may say my ties, my socks are a statement anyway. But of what? A statement of rebellion? Joy? Absurdity? You see we don’t know what the statement is – if indeed there is one – and that is as it should be.

I am begged to wear an Aids Ribbon, a breast cancer ribbon, a Marie Curie flower… You name it, from the Red Cross to the RNIB, they send me stuff to wear to raise awareness, and I don’t. And in those terms, and those terms alone, I do not and will not wear a poppy.

Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there – ‘he damned well must wear a poppy!’. Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air.

I respect our armed forces, the sacrifice and the loss, and like others I remember them on Remembrance Sunday. That’s the way it is. I won’t be wearing a black tie for anyone’s death – I don’t for my own relatives, so why on earth would I for anyone else’s?

When the Queen Mother died, our coverage was not of dark grief but of a happy life remembered. 

In the end there really must be more important things in life than whether a news presenter wears symbols on his lapels.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4