I WROTE to this paper last year about the misappropriation of the poppy by right-wing movements in the UK. This year I was impressed to see that Cambridge University students resisted a call by Conservative members to enforce Remembrance events on their fellow students.

Of course the right-wing press have been driven into a frenzy. Their readers are apoplectic. What else would we expect?

I truly admire the position taken by Stella Swain and her fellow students. They will have known in advance about the fuss and fury their decision would cause amongst the far-right radical groups such as Conservative Progress and the rantings of frothing Daily Mail readers and the eternally angry Daily Express mob. They are standing up for the very same freedoms that their detractors are claiming are being discredited.

Ms Swain and her compatriots have taken an exemplary stance against the fanatical British nationalists who demand that their every waking moment is spent in Remembrance mode.

The whole meaning of the poppy symbol has been switched from reminding us of the futile waste of human beings and their lives in tragic wars to being a glorification of Britain and Britishness. The poppy has literally become a recruiting tool for the armed forces and anyone who does not subscribe to the faux, teary-eyed promotion of service to queen and country is treated as a pariah.

Even the Mayor of Cambridge, James Palmer, has chipped in with his tuppence worth of bile, slighting the university for bringing great shame upon itself.

Taking a step back from this maelstrom, I am reminded of a story I saw recently of a man named August Landmesser. He is now known as the man who refused to give the Sieg Hiel Nazi salute that was mandatory to show loyalty to the Fuhrer, the party and the nation. There were serious consequences for his actions but he refused to be carried along by the mass hysteria of the crowd.

What if more people had thought for themselves and looked at their situation critically? What if there were more “Landmessers” standing arms folded, defiant against tyranny?

Over the next week we will be subjected to more of this ugly British nationalism. I no longer pay the BBC licence and so I will not have to suffer jumped-up little newsreaders grilling members of the public as to why they are not sporting a poppy. I will not have to read the incensed, furious fulminations of right-wing nationalist newspapers spewing their outraged nonsense. Neither will I sit back and watch them attack and harass those students who have taken back the meaning of what the poppy symbol really stood for.

I will be writing to the Mayor of Cambridgeshire to express my support for the students and to remind him of what the core values of this world-renowned institution state: freedom of thought and expression, freedom from discrimination.

Ian Greenhalgh

THE Remembrance Debate over white poppies has brought to the fore the usual small-minded petty patriotism and jingoistic nonsense from the political right.

Many of us descended from those senselessly send to their deaths in the Great War wear multiple remembrance symbols this season.

Like many outraged family members, I give to the Salvation Army, to Combat Stress, and to charities promoting conflict resolution at this time of year.

However, the Hague Fund, which runs the Scottish Poppy Appeal, will never see a penny of my money under any circumstances, and the reasons for that are deeply personal.

LJ McDowall