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UK journalist harassed for refusing poppy appeal

Crosses of Remembrance are pictured in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in central London on November 8, 2018. (AFP photo)

Tabloid media in the United Kingdom have launched a coordinated attack on a political activist believed to be close to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn after he deplored the increasing costs of Poppy Appeal, a tradition to wear Remembrance Poppies to honor war veterans.

The mass circulation newspaper Daily Mail ran an article on its website on Thursday calling Aaron Bastani, a far-left journalist with close links to the Labour, as Corbyn's “attack dog” simply because he had said that annual remembrance scheme to wear red poppies was “a joke”.

Bastani had slammed the whopping costs of production and distribution of poppies in Britain, saying the Royal British Legion, which is in charge of the poppy appeal, was a “grotesque” charity and had to be shut down.

Bastani said in a November 7 tweet that it was “absolutely sickening” that Britain spent 45 million pounds each year on the poppy campaign while it failed to save some 13,000 former war veterans from homelessness.

The Daily Mail said senior figures in the Labour Party leadership had slammed Bastani, saying the poppy appeal should be preserved whatsoever. The Sun, the other newspaper with huge readership across Britain, also published a similar report, calling for Bastani to be dismissed from the Labour party.

Many in Britain dislike the use of the Remembrance poppies, a tradition that has been in place since First World War to honor veterans of conflicts. They believe that poppies are dubiously used by politicians to sell wars, like those contributed by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Poppy critics even say that forcing people to wear Remembrance poppies is a form of fascism while others say that making poppies has become a huge business in Britain with only a factory in south-west London producing over 50 million poppies each year to supply the market.

Reports last week suggested that a taxi driver working in Britain’s second largest city of Birmingham had been sacked because of refusing to carry poppies. The KMR Cars said the driver had been sacked because of refusing to transport boxes of Remembrance items from a branch of The Royal British Legion to the Aston Villa football club in Birmingham.

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