And so to November, that time of the year when days get shorter, temperatures fall, the pavements are strewn with fallen leaves, and those who do not prominently display a poppy as they go about their business are subjected to routine abuse from our free and fearless press. In this, that press can call upon its reserves of shock troops to knock the doubters into line, one of whom is former soldier Richard Kemp.
O'Brien! Insolent man! Get back in line! And have a shave, dammit!
You're ... let me get this right ... first time caller Richard from the Officers' Mess ...
Even better for the press, Kemp is an intolerant bigot who shares their deep suspicion of all those Scary Muslims™. Moreover, he is particularly intolerant when it comes to wearing the poppy. So when author and LBC host James O’Brien expounded on the subject live on air yesterday morning, and his conclusions did not meet with Kemp’s approval, the former Colonel decided to put the bounder on a charge. And I don’t mean his iPhone.
“Those cheering on the likes of Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán and Marine Le Pen have no right to wear the poppy this year says James O’Brien" told the LBC Twitter feed. His argument was that these, like the Axis powers, the Greek colonels, Francisco Franco and António de Oliveira Salazar, were fascists, and it was to defeat fascists that Britain went to war. Kemp was deeply offended and instantly decided to indulge in a little projection.
“What gives you the right to say someone should not wear the poppy because their political views are different from yours? Do you say the same about those who cheer on Jeremy Corbyn, arch supporter of terrorism? Stop politicising the poppy”. Smearing the Labour leader as a terrorist supporter? Check! But O’Brien’s point about fascism was well made - he also mentioned Jair Bolsonaro - yet Kemp just ignored it.
“It rhymes with weedom of meech. I’ll give you another clue tomorrow” responded O’Brien on the subject of what gave him the right to say what he did. Kemp didn’t have to agree with him, or even understand the irony of his situation, which Otto English summed up succinctly: “If Britain was a third world country. Kemp is the sort of strong man fool who'd seize power”. Kemp wants freedom of speech, but only that which is acceptable to him.
This was demonstrated as he went off the end of the pier in no style at all at one Tweeter who asked “How is the poppy not political? Forcing someone to wear it is political”. The effrontery of that man! “Who forces anyone to wear a poppy? Don’t be absurd”. Politicisation point ignored, as is the right-wing press’ behaviour which effectively forces those on public view to wear one. Remember the abuse of Charlene White?
And whatever you do, don’t mention the white poppy of peace to Colonel Kemp. Light blue touchpaper, stand well back. “The red poppy commemorates thousands who were stretcher bearers, medics, unarmed in the fields of combat. The white poppy is a hard left political campaign intended to undermine British remembrance of our war dead. It commemorates IRA, Islamic State, Taliban, AQ, SS murderers”. Bullshit.
No wonder Richard Kemp took such exception to James O’Brien bringing up the subject of fascism. Because when it comes to poppy fascism, he has no equal.
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