Leader: Keep politics and poppies apart

THE tone of Remembrance Sunday is changing. It used to be seen as an opportunity to look back - sometimes quite a distance - at those armed service personnel who gave their lives for their country in past conflicts.

But now, when we see the ceremonies being attended by widows and children of men killed in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, it is clear that it is less a way of commemorating historical events and more a way of marking the service and sacrifice of those fighting in the present day. Remembrance Sunday is all the more poignant for that.

The danger with this development, however, is that the politics of current conflicts intrudes - whether it be the debate about the wearing of poppies, or the question posed by some as to whether honouring our soldiers fighting abroad is in some way endorsing the military campaigns in which they are engaged.

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This is not a day for debating the rights and wrongs of specific wars or geopolitical strategies. Legitimate though these debates are, in themselves, it is disrespectful to appropriate the dead - especially those whose families are still mourning - for narrow political argument.

Instead this is when we should be looking beyond politics to the humanity of those who gave their lives in war, and the loss felt by their loved ones. Today of all days we should endeavour to keep politics and poppies apart. Today of all days, it is right to declare a truce.