It is reported that various members of the UK government consider a march calling for peace in Gaza planned in London on Saturday 11 November disrespectful. However, while there are multiple quotes from various government figures none actually explain their reasoning.

The November 11th events mark the end of WW1 have always been associated with a call for peace and remembrance of the horrors of war. In the UK the first march to the Cenotaph was called the great Peace March marking the signing of the peace treaty in July 1919, and in Australia and New Zealand the initial 11th November 1919 celebrations were called a peace march. In the US marches for peace on this day are common, including this year apparently and are not usually considered disrespectful. Other examples around the world seem to indicate this interpretation is fairly common.

Has the UK government given any reason why these particular calls for peace are disrespectful on this day that is all about the horrors of war and calls for peace.


2 Answers 2


The article you have linked in your first paragraph does provide some more context to the British government's characterisation of the planned demonstrations as "disrespectful". The main concern that members of the government express is that such demonstrations might interfere with ceremonies being carried out in Whitehall, although it's worth noting that organisers claim they do not intend to demonstrate in that area. The deputy prime minister expressed similar concerns on November 5th saying that,

I think the police need to think very carefully about the safety of that demonstration, namely whether it could spill over into violent protest and the signal it sends, particularly to the Jewish community.

As a comment by Jonita points out, the Home Secretary has gone further and described similar demonstrations as "hate marches" (although the Metropolitan Police Commissioner seems to disagree). Obviously, if you believe that description, then it is disrespectful to hold such a demonstration on a Day of Remembrance (or any day, I suppose).

However, there is a broader point here which I think it's worth drawing attention to. You describe Remembrance Day as a "call for peace and remembrance of the horrors of war", which is certainly true for many people, but the British government seems to have a more limited understanding of the event. This is from the official guidance for the Remembrance service that will take place on November 12th,

Starting at 11am, the service will commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women involved in the two world wars and later conflicts.

Similarly, the Royal British Legion, which if the main non-governmental organisation associated with Remembrance events, has the following to say,

Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life.
We unite to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.

Somewhat interestingly, the British Royal Family, apparently has a broader interpretation,

On the second Sunday of each November, The King leads the nation in remembering those who have died in world wars and other conflicts ... two minutes of complete silence is held in remembrance of all lost in war.

My vague recollection is that, in the not so distant past, it was widely accepted in the UK that Remembrance events commemorated all victims of war, but that at some point (I don't know when) much more emphasis was placed on British and Commonwealth military personnel. If you look into the history of the White Poppy, you will find that there has been a certain amount of tension over this point for quite some time. In any case, once you realise that the government views Remembrance as referring specifically to British and Commonwealth military casualties, it is easier to see why they might regard demonstrations in relation to the Gaza Conflict as "disrespectful".


Because calls for peace are seen as a dog whistle

If calls for peace were only about peace, it’s unlikely that anyone would have an issue with them. But as evidenced by protests over the past month, such protests often end up with slogans like From the river to the sea which question Israel’s right to exist.

So yes, a peace protest should be fine in theory. But this is not what’s happening in practice.

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    The other thing is that calling for peace, now, is basically saying that Hamas can redo this crap any old time. Do something really, really, bloody, get a lot of their own civilians killed, quite possibly on purpose. Then appeal to "peace" to freeze. Rinse and repeat. That is not peace, no matter Israel's own egregious faults in its dealings with Palestinians. Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 18:47
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    The question asks for an explanation by the UK government. I assume that you are not representing them here so this does not answer the question. Can you show that this is indeed the explanation given by the UK government and not just your own reasoning?
    – xyldke
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 7:11
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    @xyldke the UK government doesn't exist in a bubble. Just because they won't directly state that it's a "dog whistle" doesn't mean that they don't see it as such. We can use facts on the ground to understand why a certain protest might be seen in a negative light. Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 14:03
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    And just because a term can be seen as a dog whistle does not mean that the UK government sees it as such. You offer a reasonable explanation why someone might see the protest in a negative light, you have not shown that this also applies to the UK government.
    – xyldke
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 14:57
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    @JonathanReez So the answer to the question is "No, it has not explained why a march would be disrespectful, but here's their unofficial reasoning". That would be a valid answer if you could provide some evidence (like a news article citing "people in government").
    – xyldke
    Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 7:01

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