GUEST COLUMN: Poppies are not political, by Gloria De Piero, Ashfield MP

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

At this time of year our thoughts turn to those who lost their lives fighting for this country.

We owe these servicemen and women so much, which is why it is upsetting to hear about the experience of the Sheldon family from Kirkby.

Poppy appeal, traditional poppies

Poppy appeal, traditional poppies

They erected a bench at Kingsway Park in memory of their son Adrian, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 aged 25. Inexplicably this has been repeatedly targeted by vandals causing damaging and the family now want the bench moving somewhere safer. The complete lack of respect that these thoughtless acts convey is disgusting. We should be eternally thankful for the sacrifice that brave individuals like Adrian made, because we owe them everything. I cannot imagine what the country would be like now if they hadn’t fought for our liberty and to make us safer. As Armistice Day approaches, let’s make sure we all remember them and pay them the respects they deserve.

On the topic of Armistice Day, I have to say how shocking it is that FIFA has threatened the English and Scottish national football teams with sanctions if the players wear poppies when they play each other on November 11. FIFA has a ban on teams wearing political symbols because sport should not be used for promoting political ideologies. But the poppy is not a political symbol. We wear poppies to remember the millions of people who have given their lives in conflict for our country. Wearing a poppy should be a personal choice and it is not for FIFA or any other institution to decide whether England and Scotland players are permitted to wear one. I hope they show some sense and do not impose penalties for a show of respect.

Community pharmacies are vital to our communities, particularly for elderly people, disabled people and those with long-term illnesses, who rely on them for the medications they need. Up to 3,000 community pharmacies could close across the country because the Government is cutting its funding by 12 per cent for the rest of this financial year and a seven per cent cut next year.

Research suggests that six pharmacies in Ashfield are at risk of closure. We all know that NHS funding and resources are stretched to breaking point. So why are the Tories targeting pharmacies, which provide vital support to over-stretched GP surgeries and hospitals? This will pile more pressure on health services locally and could make GP appointments even harder to come by. These cuts are short-sighted and Labour will continue to fight to save community pharmacies, which are so needed by so many.