Remembrance Day is coming up and the poppy hawkers are out already. Normally I would buy a poppy almost as soon as they went on sale but this year I won’t be buying one, not because I don’t think they collect for a good cause but because of an objection to the way they treat England.
The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal merged with Poppyscotland this year in a deal which will see “substantial additional investment” in Poppyscotland paid out of money donated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the Poppy Appeal while “the Poppyscotland brand will continue unchanged and the Scottish Poppy and Scottish Poppy Appeal will remain in place, with funds raised from the campaign being used exclusively to support the Armed Forces and veterans’ community in Scotland“.
The British Legion are certainly not the only culprits where this sort of thing is concerned though. Age Concern and Help the Aged also merged this year to become Age Scotland, Age Cymru, Age NI and Age UK. Not Age England, Age UK.
I know there are lots of organisations that do this (eg. the British Medical Association, the FA, the RFU) so I had a look at some of the bigger, well known charities to see how they organise themselves and here’s what I found:
Amnesty International organises itself as Amnesty International Scotland, Amnesty International Wales, Amnesty International NI and Amnesty International. The British Heart Foundation is BHF Scotland the BHF. Christian Aid is Christian Aid Scotland, Christian Aid Wales and Christian Aid. There is a Citizens Advice Scotland and plain old Citizens Advice. There is a MIND Cymru and just MIND that only operates in England. There is a National Trust Scotland and the National Trust. Oxfam has an Oxfam Scotland, Oxfam Wales and plain old Oxfam. The YMCA is organised as YMCA Scotland, YMCA Wales, YMCA NI and the YMCA.
This poses a bit of a dilemma. Charities (genuine charities, not taxpayer-funded lobbyists) perform a very important function, providing services that would otherwise be out of reach of vulnerable people and financially supporting those in need. But there’s an important matter of principle at stake here – the deliberate and insulting ignorance of England. I mean, in what alternative reality is it acceptable for the Poppy Appeal to merge with Poppyscotland, give them a share of the money they collect in England and allow Poppyscotland to keep all the money they collect in Scotland?
I won’t be buying a poppy this year – I’ll make a donation to Help for Heroes instead if I see one of their collectors out and about. I won’t be donating to any of the charities named above either if I see their collectors (although I wouldn’t have donated to the religious ones anyway). It might seem harsh but if charities want English money then they should stop insulting English people.