The patriots of the UK Labour party have launched an attack on Nigel Farage for not wearing a poppy when he met President-elect Donald Trump.
Party HQ sent an attack note to journalists on Monday morning dubbing Farage a “poppy-less popinjay”, and implying he was being disrespectful to the memory of fallen British soldiers.
But they were immediately slammed by Ukip rivals for making trivial complaints that amount to “egregious virtue signalling”.
It is a surprising moral battle to pick for a party led by MPs whose patriotism in the face of remembrance ceremonies has been repeatedly called into question.
The attack on Farage was attributed to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, who rarely gets a shout on the national stage. It said, with some irony:
I will never insist that anyone must wear a poppy, or attend remembrance events. This is a free country, and people choose to remember in different ways. But, hypocrisy is something else altogether. You don’t get to appropriate the Battle of Britain in your campaign literature, only to prioritise transatlantic photo-ops a few months later.
Mr Farage likes to play by a different set of rules, this much is true. But in what universe do we let go, without comment or censure, the pictures of this grinning poppy-less popinjay in a gold lift with Donald Trump?
Lauded on Fox News as some latter day revolutionary, Mr Farage basked in the warm glow of right wing acceptance. But make no mistake – he made a choice between two things this weekend. A choice between standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow Brits in solemn remembrance, or to go on a jolly to the States to pick up a bit of reflected glory. He chose the latter.
Labour’s decision to use Jones as a mouthpiece to hit out at Trump is unusual. But Heat Street cannot help but note that many senior Labour figures have a less-than-stellar record when it comes to remembrance.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott all spent Remembrance Sunday 2014 laughing along to a comedy event where there were calls for a female Tory MP to be lynched.
The event also saw a comedian denigrate a high-profile poppy memorial at the Tower of London as a “river of blood”.
The Trump-Farage meeting, inside Trump Tower, Manhattan, on Saturday evening, was the President-elect’s first meeting with a British politician since his election triumph.
As Heat Street has noted, Farage is one of a tiny group of British politicians who has not had to effect a massive U-turn on Trump in the past week.
In the place where a poppy might usually sit, Trump instead wore a pin showing the UK and US flags next to each other, given to him by former aide Raheem Kassam.
Nigel's wearing my UK/US flag pin today on Fox. pic.twitter.com/d44C91oCVQ
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) November 12, 2016
Arron Banks, an ally of Farage who also met Trump, dismissed social media criticism of Farage’s poppy by pointing out Armistice Day was the day before.
12th November https://t.co/tTtiN8ar4I
— Arron Banks (@Arron_banks) November 13, 2016
A Ukip spokesman told Heat Street that Farage decided not to wear the poppy because it would have been unnecessary virtue signalling.
He said: “Mr Jones is probably unaware that in the US, the 11th is the day of commemoration.
“For Mr Farage to have worn a poppy would have been an egregious example of virtue signalling. Something normal for the likes of Mr Jones, but an anathema to Mr Farage.