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Campaigners hit out at removal of song’s anti-war message

Pop star Joss Stone was embroiled in a political row yesterday after releasing a “sanitised” version of a classic anti-war anthem for the Royal British Legion’s annual poppy appeal.

Peace campaigners have slammed the version of Eric Bogle’s ballad No Man’s Land, which hit the shops on Monday in advance of Remembrance Sunday.

The sentimental track by Ms Stone and guitarist Jeff Beck cuts two and a half verses from the original four, including lines declaiming “man’s blind indifference to his fellow man.”

Also missing is its poignant anti-war crescendo: “Did you really believe that this war would end wars?/Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame/The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain/For Willie Mcbride, it all happened again/And again, and again, and again, and again.”

Thousands have already bombarded the RBL with complaints over the release via an online petition demanding that it apologise.

But in a statement to the Morning Star yesterday the organisation hit back, saying it “rejects the premise of a campaign claiming that it has ‘sanitised’ the anti-war message.”

It added its hope that downloaders “will be inspired by Joss Stone and Jeff Beck’s transcendent and moving version, which honours all those in the British armed forces who have lost their lives in service to the nation.

“Monies raised by the single will enable the Legion to provide direct support to veterans of the armed forces, serving personnel, and their families, for life.”

It suggested that the campaign was rooted in a “selective and misleading interpretation of a letter written by Eric Bogle.”

The original songwriter, who was not involved in the new version, gave his own take after being inundated with queries.

He said the Stone release “certainly doesn’t glorify it, but doesn’t condemn it either.

“Sentimentalising, perhaps, but not glorifying.”

He agreed that the “strong anti-war message” of the original had been diminished.

“Missing some crucial verses does not help.”

But musician Lisa Rigby branded the changes “a shameful omission.”

“All those lost to war are best commemorated by meaningful efforts to stop war entirely,” she said.

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