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There's Nothing Wrong With the Red Poppy

There's Nothing Wrong With the Red Poppy

With white poppy sales rising, SUSU’s president wanting to paint over war murals and CUSU refusing to promote Remembrance Day the question must be asked: Has our generation forgotten why we celebrate Remembrance Day in the first place?

With white poppy sales rising, SUSU’s president wanting to paint over war murals and CUSU refusing to promote Remembrance Day the question must be asked: Has our generation forgotten why we celebrate Remembrance Day in the first place?


A few weeks ago, the Cambridge University students Union rejected a motion to promote Remembrance Day and to encourage people to buy poppies. The motion proposed by the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA) called on the university to carry out greater recognition of Britain’s war veterans, especially on Remembrance Day, and the commemorations of the poppy appeal of Remembrance Day. They simply wanted more students to wear the poppy, honour the dead and to show their utmost respect by reflecting on the sacrifices given by so many, so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we obtain today.

But the motion put forward CUCA was rejected in favour of plans put forward by a student activist. Whilst I believe that it is unacceptable that some students have been threatened as a result of the vote, I would like to echo the words said by the Mayor of Cambridge, James Palmer, who maintains that the decision brought “great shame” to the University City. The University, however, have not banned Remembrance Day or the wearing of the poppy, but at the same time have not accepted the motion that the students union should be promoting the wearing of poppies. It is, therefore, necessary that we remind people why wearing the poppy is vital.

The wearing of the poppy began in 1921 and its aim was like this to raise money in order to help people who had fought in wars. This was also that year that the Royal British Legion was founded. The idea of wearing the poppy stemmed from the First World War. All of that European landscape that once stood was blasted, bombed and battered. The soil was churned up by the fighting and shelling; it was, therefore, too bleak and barren causing nothing to grow. In the midst of all hopelessness, bright red Flanders poppies, subtle yet resilient, grew in their thousands and flourished in the middle of turmoil and ruin.

And very soon, it will be 100 years passed since the guns have ceased fire on the western front during the First World War. In remembrance for those who died, it is now a well-established tradition in this country that you wear a poppy as we remember those whose lives have been affected by war and conflict. In addition, I believe, as Britons, we must show our sincere gratitude to the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country so that we can enjoy the liberties that we have today.

It is very easy to acquire a poppy. Every year, volunteers make poppies available throughout the country and people are able to make a donation in order to get their poppy. The funds raised from these donations are used to help servicemen and women who are still alive, whose lives have been changed by wars that they fought in. The Royal British Legion only asks you “to wear it with pride." Let us, therefore, wear our poppies with pride and remember why we wear them.

As Laurence Binyon wrote in ‘For the Fallen’:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


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