WHAT splendid news that the Royal British Legion in South and West Yorkshire has raised £1m through the 2007/2008 poppy appeal.

Wars can often seem quite distant to those who have not experienced them first hand and, as time passes, the two world wars become ever further away in time and memory.

It is all the more important that the poppy appeal continues to be observed and those who gave their lives – both in these conflicts and all those since – are remembered.

As should be pointed out, Britain is fighting two wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – right now.

The battles may be taking place far away from here but the effects are felt in families across the country when servicemen and women return injured or are even killed.

Every penny raised by the sale of poppies goes to help ex-service personnel and their dependents and the appeal is the main source of funding for the Royal British Legion’s welfare schemes.

It is only right that we should continue to support those prepared to sacrifice themselves for our country.

Contrast the generosity of the donors with the mean spirit shown by Gordon Brown’s decision to axe the 10p starting rate of income tax.

It hits the poorest workers – with around a third of the Armed Forces being among those worse off under the new system.

Someone at level one private or equivalent rank would be £89 a year worse off on average, level two £63 and level three £34.

They are not the biggest losers in the toll of 5.3 million workers who will suffer in what was a sleight of hand in Gordon Brown’s last Budget when he announced he would cut the basic rate of income tax from 22p down to 20p.

Labour MPs cheered him to the rafters at the time – now the truth is out that lower-paid people will be funding the cut through higher taxes.

It is the last thing they need when prices are rising and the economy appears to be going into slump.

Anger over this is the last thing Labour needs as we enter the final few weeks before May’s local elections.