Monday, December 6

Wreaths are not a Political Football

A Political party has been accused of attempting to make political capital out of Remembrance Day by laying wreaths with the group's logo. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) laid wreaths for fallen heroes marked with the group's bright yellow and black pound-sign logo.

They were placed at Cenotaphs in Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Leek and elsewhere across the region as part of 4,000 across the country.

Wreaths are usually laid by the mayor on behalf of communities - without any political allegiance.

Councillors claim UKIP has used Remembrance Day as a "political football" and say advertising political parties at such services is in bad taste.

UKIP representatives have hit back by dubbing the dispute petty and unfair and have revealed that each wreath was bought for £18 from the Royal British Legion (RBL), raising £72,000 for the organisation.

Newcastle UKIP chairman David Nixon laid his party wreath at the town centre cenotaph, saying the party was only following the wishes of veterans by laying 'political' wreaths across the county.

He said: "At our national conference, a veteran stood up asking UKIP to lay wreaths across the country because it would raise money for the British Legion."

He argued that if the RBL could produce wreaths for UKIP there was nothing stopping other political parties raising money for war veterans by doing the same.

Newcastle Conservative group leader Simon Tagg also took part in the Newcastle ceremony, saying Mr Nixon's wreath-laying left "a bad taste".

"Political parties don't put down their own wreaths because the Newcastle mayor does so on their behalf," he explained. "These wreaths are not political footballs."

Source: The Sentinel (Stoke), November 20th 2004

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