Remembrance Sunday is not a time for student politics

Adam  Memon

by Adam Memon

Remembrance Sunday is the one day of the year when we stand together to honour the millions of British and Commonwealth men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We remember the families of those who were killed; we remember those who were maimed and injured in the fighting, and for just a few minutes we think about the horrors of war and thank them for their bravery.

So it was incredibly disappointing to learn that the Acting President (who is also Vice President) of the University of London Union refused to attend the University of London’s remembrance service. Describing World War 1 as “a scramble for colonial possessions” and those who died as “victims of the self-interested advancement of the British Empire”, he went on to say on his blog that:

Popular loathing against the war came together with class anger against exploitation and hardship. A wave of revolutions followed across Europe, some were limited, and others developed into full blown changes in the status quo, for example in Russia the working class took power.

Today the military and monarchy stand tall at the front of the day of remembrance. Mourning the butchery of thousands of ordinary people through an act of remembrance side by side with the inheritors of an economic system which created the war is not something I wish to take part in.

Apart from espousing an astonishing interpretation of history suffused with Soviet nostalgia, the statement ignores the fact that the Remembrance service commemorates those who lost their lives in all of the wars from World War 1. Whether they fought in the trenches of the Somme, fought to free Europe from Nazism or fought to defend the people of the Falklands from occupation; we remember them all. Fundamentally, liberal democracy and a free market economy are the very antithesis of the collectivist, totalitarian ideologies against which we have fought.

Sadly, ULU has continued its tradition of electing left wing radicals with 1% turnout as the newly elected President has come out in support of the decision not to attend the Remembrance Service.

What is bitterly ironic, is that news of this refusal to attend the remembrance service came the day after the unveiling of the memorial to Noor Inayat Khan by Princess Anne in Gordon Square, about 50 metres from the University of London Union building.

Noor Inayat Khan was a Muslim Indian Princess who joined Churchill’s Special Operations Executive as a radio operator in occupied France. Despite her colleagues being arrested, Khan continued her work until her betrayal and capture. She resisted 10 months of imprisonment and torture by the Gestapo but refused to reveal any information and was executed in Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

We remember her as we remember all those who died for our freedom regardless of the actions of our student union leaders.

 

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Comments

UCL Student - About 654 days ago

The standard Remembrance rituals are already suffused with politicisation. Even your defence of them cites Liberalism. In fact, it would be impossible to think anything worthwhile or respectful about war that was devoid of political content. Remembrance Sunday is not and cannot be apolitical, whatever your actions toward it.

Cooper, and the rest of us who share his attitude to mainstream Remembrance rituals (including not a few veterans, let's not forget), choose to mourn and remember the dead in a different way. This is not a rejection of Remembrance, but of the particular political form of remembrance that you advocate. Is that not something your much-vaunted liberal values can accommodate or engage intelligently with?

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Samuel Johnson - About 654 days ago

Cooper's 'remembrance' is a sham, though. Instead of the established, recognised form of remembrance, which is manifestly not political - no references to liberalism or conservatism there - but simply remembers the pity of war and those, of all nationalities and classes, who died, he substitutes class warfare (only remembering the "working-class" soldiers who died) and Soviet rewriting of history. If every individual or group reacted in the same way and held their own ritual in conformance with whatever their own political beliefs might be, there wouldn't be more remembrance but rather no remembrance at all. Do the deaths of upper- or middle-class soldiers hurt less? What about those who don't want Mr Cooper's Soviet revolution? The point is that Remembrance Day should allow people of all kinds and classes to come together. No one wants more war. But Mr Cooper has shown that instead of representing students he would prefer to increase divisions between them. He should go immediately.

Anonymous - About 630 days ago

HiI sent in a poppy for the Wootton Bassett poppy field, will this be on the telly or in the papers or a pic on this site?.It would be nice to see them all.Remembering them all today ..Best rgeradsAnnette

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