No Respect

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ULU President refuses to lay poppy wreath amid accusations of 'disgusting' political opportunism

Angry students have attacked ­the Union President for his “disgusting” refusal to lay a wreath at today’s Remembrance Service.

Daniel Cooper, Acting President of University of London Union (ULU), snubbed the ceremony claiming it would celebrate “an economic system which created the war”.

He says the service – which commemorates those who lost their lives in the First World War and other wars – is “an insult to those sent to die, victims of the self interested advancement of the British Empire.”

Outrage..ULU Acting President Dan Cooper

Graduates and students accused Cooper, who represents more than 120,000 students in the capital, of capitalising on the occasion for political gain.

Cooper’s comments are all the more shocking as the most recent casualty in Afghanistan, Lt Edward Drummond-Baxter, was a UCL graduate.

Furious graduates and students hit out at the Acting President.

Jonny Prince, a 23-year-old UCL graduate, said: “My great grandfather’s eldest brother, a UCL student, was killed at Loos. This guy is meant to represent him. Absolutely disgusting.

“As an ex-ULU student I am absolutely incensed that he has taken this as an opportunity to promote his own political views. It doesn’t matter what your political viewpoint is on war, remembrance is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of our friends and family members.”

Prince added: “I am hugely insulted by his letter and do not feel that he has adequately represented the views of the students he represents.”

It is common practice for the President of ULU to lay a wreath at the service, and Cooper was invited by Rev. Stephen Williams, the Chaplain of the University of London.

But in a fiery response reproduced on his blog, Cooper wrote: “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.”

Remembrance services will be held across the country this weekend.

He added: “I mourn and remember the dead. But my mourning is mixed with bitter anger against the rulers and the system that create such bloodshed.”

 

“Disgusting”

Instead of attending the ceremony, Cooper will hold an event entitled ‘Our remembrance: A working class history of war’ next week.

Rev. Williams declined to comment on the matter, but London students were quick to condemn Cooper.

On Facebook, Bradley Willis wrote: “Disgusting. How you bastards claim to represent ‘all of the students of ULU’ is beyond me. Not in my name.”

@TheTab
  • #whatwouldchessumdo

    I wonder whether the new ULU President, Michael Chessum, will make any comments about this…

    • UCL

      Chessum did reply on Facebook. He says he holds the same views and supports Cooper. Once again ULU looks ridiculous.

  • Disgraceful

    Remembrance Sunday is not an occasion for political opportunism. Nor is it a celebration of people dying in world war I it is a day to put aside our political differences, and in an apolitical fashion mourn and pay respects for those who have fought and died for this country in ALL wars, because the most common strand of motive for many of the people who fought was to protect our freedom and liberty. Given his opportunistic prattle about the 'working classes' and his railing against the current economic system I assume he must see himself as a communist (you know, that wonderful, peaceful economic system that starved millions to death in the Ukraine and caused the death of millions of people from all classes in the name of 'class war' in Russia, and launched an unprovoked invasion of all of Russia's satellite states and Afghanistan). If the people he is supposed to mourn by laying a wreath had not died to protect him from Nazism in World War II then he would have been executed by now just for having those views. Moreover given that he his hosting his own event commemorating the death of the 'working classes' I can only assume that this man thinks that any middle or upper class people, or indeed, anyone with any wealth, who selflessly gave their lives to protect us from threats such as tyranny, genocide, and oppression should not be commemorated? We should dance on their graves and say "thanks for the freedom moneybags, but I'm glad you're dead?" Laugh at their sacrifice? Pathetic. This is exactly the sort of self-important, vicious, nasty, envious, classist, inconsequential, pathetic little man who gives the left a bad name. He should be ashamed of himself. If he refuses to commemorate those who died for his freedom just because they lived in a capitalist country then let's deprive him of the benefits they gave him. Let's deport him to China, and when he is being tortured by the lovely, caring 'communist' regime for daring to want his liberty back and daring to speak, and when he is beggining to come back to the UK and have everything he previously took for granted, lets tell him he can come back to the UK on two conditions: 1) he must serve at least 5 years in the armed forces and 2) he must lay a wreath at every remembrance Sunday for the rest of his life.

    Please, dear god students of London, at the very least pass a motion of no confidence in this guy, and force him to resign.

  • Brad

    As honoured I am by the quote, thought I'd best tell you my surname is Willis, not Wills 😉 But also thank you for bringing highlight to this issue!

  • Tom Harris

    Dan Cooper is a principled opponent of nationalism and war. He's chosen to truly honour the memory of the fallen by despising what killed them, unlike the politicians who lay their wreaths with solemnity, as if they weren't responsible for a system which sees a high proportion of veterans desperately badly provided for, or homeless. As if they weren't also heavily implicated in an arms trade that prolongs the carnage. As if they weren't continuing to send more soldiers to die.
    Cooper's my ULU vice-president and I'm bloody proud of him.

  • Tom Harris

    Dan Cooper is a principled opponent of nationalism and war. He's chosen to truly honour the memory of the fallen by despising what killed them, unlike the politicians who lay their wreaths with solemnity, as if they weren't responsible for a system which sees a high proportion of veterans desperately badly provided for, or homeless. As if they weren't also heavily implicated in an arms trade that prolongs the carnage. As if they weren't continuing to send more soldiers to die.
    Cooper's my ULU vice-president and I'm bloody proud of him.

  • James

    In the "Battle" of the Somme, 20,000 – yes TWENTY THOUSAND!! – British soldiers were killed in one day – yes ONE DAY!! After the very first wave of attacks, it was blindingly obvious to everyone that the German positions had not been taken out or even significantly damaged by the previous week-long artillery bombardment, yet our military leader Haig continued to order men "over the top" to their certain deaths. The "battle" went on from July 1916 until the autumn and over a million British, French and German young men were killed.
    It's completely and utterly disgusting that the British commander Haig was not strung up for crimes against humanity. For him, human lives of millions of young men meant absolutely nothing to them.
    Personally, I wear a poppy, but after having read all of Mr Cooper's viewpoint, he does make some strong points. And if he chooses not to wear a poppy for these reasons, then this should be respected.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span_Ows

      "And if he chooses not to wear a poppy for these reasons, then this should be respected."

      It is NOT his views that he is representing when he received the invitation.

  • James

    In the "Battle" of the Somme, 20,000 – yes TWENTY THOUSAND!! – British soldiers were killed in one day – yes ONE DAY!! After the very first wave of attacks, it was blindingly obvious to everyone that the German positions had not been taken out or even significantly damaged by the previous week-long artillery bombardment, yet our military leader Haig continued to order men "over the top" to their certain deaths. The "battle" went on from July 1916 until the autumn and over a million British, French and German young men were killed.
    It's completely and utterly disgusting that the British commander Haig was not strung up for crimes against humanity. For him, human lives of millions of young men meant absolutely nothing to them.
    Personally, I wear a poppy, but after having read all of Mr Cooper's viewpoint, he does make some strong points. And if he chooses not to wear a poppy for these reasons, then this should be respected.

  • Compromise

    #1 -There are no serious advocates of conformity. Dan Cooper is entitled to his opinion.
    #2 – That said, that majority view should be fairly represented. If Cooper was unable to attend on moral grounds, then a ULU representative should have been nominated to attend.
    #3 – Michael Chessum has subsequently informed us that a ULU representative was nominated. However, the fact that Cooper made absolutely no attempt to reassure his electorate that a representative would attend can only be taken as an indicator of a greater political motive for his refusal to attend in his own person. Through presenting his abstention as ULU policy, it gained much wider recognition and caused far greater contention than it would have done otherwise. His letter became not a defense of his opinion, but a manifesto.
    #4 – The refusal to compromise has led to a disenfranchisement of the electoral majority. This was not the action of a serious politician, but an activist.
    #5 – Cooper needs to issue an apology for his mishandling, not for his views. If he does not feel able to do this, he should step down. Better politicians have stepped down from greater positions of power for less. His reputation among the majority of the electorate has been seriously tarnished. Apology is the only productive means he has available to save himself.

  • John Kee

    Remembrance Sunday isn't a celebration Luke, it's about remembrance (clue is in the name). Thousands of young men didn't even have a choice about going off to war when they were conscripted so we should least have the decency to remember them. If remembering the way in which they died means remembering the sickening wars in which they fought and the fact that they should never have had to die in the first place then so be it. But to suggest these fallen soldiers were in some way responsible for some of the wrongdoings carried out by the British military is disgusting.

  • Wanel Hutton

    Solidarity for the right to express himself!
    Whilst it is right to commemorate those that fell in defence of this nation in WWI and WWII (albeit there are no more veterans remaining from WWII), the Poppy campaign itself has rebranded itself as a twentieth and twenty-first conflict glorification, commemoratiing those that fell in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan and UCL, and any other unversity union, has the right to question Britain's involvement in these arguably questionable and potentially illegitamite wars. If it represents the students (and chances are it may after the illegal Iraq occupation) he must respect this as president.

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