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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 17:45 GMT
TV's Snow rejects 'poppy fascism'
Jon Snow
Jon Snow says he will not wear any symbols on air
Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow has sparked controversy by refusing to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on air in protest at "poppy fascism".

Writing on a Channel 4 blog, Mr Snow admitted the absence of a poppy on his lapel had prompted viewer complaints.

He said he respected the armed forces and wore a poppy off-air but did not believe in wearing symbols on air.

Veteran broadcaster John Humphrys said the poppy was a sign of respect and Mr Snow had "missed the point, entirely".

However, the Royal British Legion said wearing a poppy was a voluntary gesture and Snow was entitled to his opinion.

There is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'He damned well must wear a poppy!'
Jon Snow

The newsreader said he did not believe in wearing anything on air which represented any kind of statement.

He said: "I am begged to wear an Aids ribbon, a breast cancer ribbon, a Marie Curie flower... You name it, from the Red Cross to the RNIB, they send me stuff to wear to raise awareness, and I don't.

"And in those terms, and those terms alone, I do not and will not wear a poppy.

"Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'He damned well must wear a poppy!'.

"Well I do, in my private life, but I am not going to wear it or any other symbol on air."

'Paying tribute'

Mr Humphrys told Simon Mayo on his BBC Five Live programme that "I think he's missing the point entirely.

"The reason I wear the poppy is because I want to pay tribute, it is a mark of respect for those men who gave their lives so that I can live the way I do today - to protect my freedom.

"And if there is anybody in this country who does not feel that gratitude then I think they should feel vaguely ashamed of themselves."

Funds appeal

Mr Snow's comments come a day after a Christian lobby group sparked controversy by urging people to exchange the traditional red remembrance poppy for the "more Christian" white poppy.

Director of Ekklesia Jonathan Bartley said red poppies implied redemption through war, while white ones were created to symbolise peace.

I feel rather sad Jon Snow prefers not to wear a poppy on air
Alistair Walker, UK

Meanwhile the Royal British Legion has said it needs almost 400m in public donations to support veterans over the next 15 years.

The charity is hoping to raise 26m of this from this year's Poppy Appeal.

While the size of the ex-service community was set to decrease from its current 10.17 million to 7.55 million by 2020, the 85-plus age group of veterans would increase dramatically from 290,000 to 920,000 in 2020, an RBL report said.

The 16-24 age group is also predicted to increase by 26%, from just under 300,000 currently to almost 375,000 by 2020.

The British Legion provides a range of services to veterans, including grant-making to those in need to war pensions advice, counselling and job retraining, home and hospital visits, and the provision of nursing care.

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