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The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at 60: around the UK

Celebrating CND's 60th anniversary with profiles of some of its offices around England, Scotland and Wales.

CND Cymru

CND Cymru is the center of the Welsh anti-nuclear movement. Before it was established in 1981, the Welsh branch of the CND was made up of a collection of smaller groups spread out across the region. This network of local associations shared a commitment to decreasing the significant role of nuclear power and nuclear proliferation in Wales through mass protest of local nuclear power plants and loud opposition to military campaigns. In the last few decades, CND Cymru has grown to have over 1,000 members across Wales and connections internationally even though the branch itself is only run by a group of 10 core volunteers. 

An interview with Brian Jones, CND Cymru vice chair:

What are some of the issues that CND Cymru has been working on recently?
Jones: 'I guess that the main issues that we've been campaigning on will not be a surprise to you; nuclear weapons, supporting ICAN [International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons] and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and opposing the UK's plans to renew Trident. Unlike some of the other branches, we do not really have a particular focus. For me at least, the nuclear issue is the end all, be all.'

CND Cymru also has been actively campaigning for non-nuclear/clean energy alternatives, correct?
Jones: There’s a long history to this. We have always encouraged energy efficiency and community renewable energy generation. Our opposition to the nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Wylfa is more of an ongoing battle. Recently we have been opposing the proposed dumping off Cardiff Bay of sediment from the outflow pipes of the stations, but it is one of those issues where it has been difficult to keep the focus on over the years. Hinkley was originally proposed in the 1980s and there was a lot of opposition then. Our argument was that we wanted the government to put their money into renewables instead of nuclear. We use the same argument now, but one thing I have noticed is that it has become more practical for people rather than the government to do that. Now we’ve seen a growth in people taking solution-oriented approaches to the matter besides just protesting, which I of course am a big fan of.

Who are some of the groups that CND Cymru works most closely with?
Jones: 'We cooperate as much as possible with groups that are interested in some, or all of these issues; particularly People Against Wylfa B, Welsh Anti Nuclear Alliance, Stop Hinkley, and Cymdeithas y Cymod. Most of the action comes from these local groups. What we try and do is coordinate activities and provide resources to save them some of the work. Hereford Peace Council for instance, is organising a Peace Train on 24 October that will go down the east border of Wales where the group will go out and collect letters urging MPs and other members of government to support the recent ICAN treaty.

It seems like CND Cymru has undergone a number of changes in terms of structure and goals over the past few decades, would you say that is the case?
Jones: 'Personally, I think the “local” or unilateral perspective on disarmament has
disappeared for the most part from CND. We have moved from looking just at Britain to looking at the world. In terms of CND Cymru, we have been going through a process of transition. We have been addressing a number of administrative issues over the last few months, in particular our website, which was significantly outdated. We’re hoping to further increase our social media and online presence. Like many groups, we've had our ups and downs! And although it's a small core group of activists, we do what we can.'

CND Cymru can be reached by phone (01239 851 188) or email (heddwch AT cndcymru.org). Check out their website for more information and updates on their latest happenings.

London Region CND

London is home to a number of major branches of the CND, but the regional section is definitely one of the organisation’s biggest. It is run by a core executive group as well as a secondary council, both of which are made up of volunteers. Like many of the other branches, London Region CND is committed to 'creating genuine security for future generations,' which, according to their website, they believe can only be achieved through 'ridding the world of all weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction.' LRCND is specifically interested in both global affairs and youth outreach and has spent the last year attempting to further educate the public on the nuclear issue and supporting certain policies on the bureaucratic table.

Interview with Carol Turner, chair of LRCND:

How did LRCND celebrate the organisation’s milestone year?
Turner: 'On the day of the Alderston March anniversary, London region held a film
showing of one of the early marches in conjunction with a local film club. We also hired a coach and brought around fifty members to the national celebration on April 1st.'

What are some of the issues the LRCND has been working on recently?
Turner: 'In the last year we have been focussing on the recently passed Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I think around 200 states have signed on to it and 57 have ratified it since August of last year. Unfortunately, but somewhat predictably, the big nuclear states have boycotted talks. The United States, Britain, and France made a statement last June that essentially said they won’t sign the treaty. While this means that nuclear weapons won’t be going away anytime soon, In my opinion the treaty represents a very important shift in international opinion on the subject, which in Britain we want to build upon.'

Who are some of the groups that LRCND works most closely with?
Turner: 'CND not only takes the lead on issues like nuclear proliferation, but works with groups like Stop the War, the Quakers, and Global Justice Now. As an example, there have been a number of anti-austerity marches in support of the NHS over the last few years and CND has participated in anti-war sections of those protests. One of our most popular slogans has been “NHS not Trident.” It is quite clear that if we weren’t spending over £2.5 trillion on Trident over its lifetime, we would have a lot more resources for education, the NHS, and the like.'

Being one of the founding branches of CND, how has LRCND’s role changed over the last few decades?
Turner: 'I think one of the reasons why CND has been able to be successful
throughout its 60 years is that it has stuck to its main issue, which is to get rid of nuclear weapons internationally. CND has such a solid reputation internationally because we have a strong campaign in a nuclear weapons possessing country. Britain really is a beacon for others working towards similar goals.'

LRCND can be reached by phone (020 7607 2302) or email (info AT londoncnd.org). Check out their website and follow them on social media for more information and updates on their latest happenings.

Scottish CND

Since the founding of their Glasgow headquarters in 1958, the Scottish branch of CND has been one of the more active sections of the organisation in growing the anti-nuclear campaign outside Great Britain. Much like their associate branches, Scottish CND has been focussed on reaching a larger audience both within their local communities and abroad. The branch has ties to regions across the country; including Edinburgh, Stirling and Aberdeen and has hosted a number of outreach events and informational sessions this year. Scottish CND also recently played a role in the civil society part of the UN conference that agreed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weaponsin 2017.

Interview with Arthur West, chair of Scottish CND

What are some of Scottish CND’s most recent initiatives?
West: 'We are working on ideas to continue the struggle to rid our country
and our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons. One of our plans for 2018 includes the organisation of a national rally at the Faslane Nuclear Weapons Base on Saturday, 22 September.'

What can be expected by those that wish to attend the rally?
West: 'The rally will be preceded by a march from the Faslane Peace Campaign just outside Helensburgh to the base. One of the main themes of the event will be the continuing campaign to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system which is housed at Faslane. The march and rally will also highlight the importance of the Global Ban Treaty. It is expected that representatives from peace movements in various parts of the world will speak and an invite is also being sent to Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon.'

What kinds of relationships has Scottish CND fostered in its six decades of existence?
West: 'We will continue to be part of the Scottish Scrap Trident coalition where we work with a range of organisations to campaign for the scrapping of Trident and the cancellation of its replacement. We will also continue to be part of the Scottish Peace Network which tirelessly makes the case for a peaceful, nonviolent, approach to resolving international tensions. Other activities include support for the Scottish CND Trade Union Network; which brings together trade union reps and members to highlight the case against nuclear weapons within the Trade Union movement. At the present time there is currently an active Scottish Nationalist Party CND network and there are some encouraging signs that a similar network could be set up within the Scottish Green Party.'

What else does Scottish CND have up its sleeve for the future?
West: ‘We are also planning to organise a number of activities to mark the 60th anniversary of CND. These plans include: a summer full of outreach activities, street work and stalls at festivals across Scotland and the development of a mobile exhibition called "Scotland - a Peace of History" that will look at the Scottish journey of CND and the wider peace movement. Peace Education Scotland is also organising a Generation Y Peace Campaigning Academy for more than 100 young people. This exciting project will take place in Glasgow in July 2018 and will involve a three-day programme on all aspects of campaigning work. Sessions will cover issues such as communications tactics, grassroots empowerment, and digital engagement.’

How has Scottish CND grown - and its goals grown - since the 1950s?
West: ‘Since then we have developed our own office base and staffing structure as
well as a solid membership base. Our organisation’s campaign work has brought
about a significant amount of positive momentum. Opinion polls in the last few years have shown that most people in Scotland support our policy of getting rid of Trident weapons. The Scottish government and most MPs have shown support as well.’

SCND can be reached by phone (0141 357 1529) or email (scnd AT banthebomb.org). Check out their website and follow them on social media for more information and updates on their latest happenings.

Yorkshire CND

An interview with Matt Fawcett of Yorkshire CND:

How did Yorkshire CND celebrate both the organisation’s and Aldermaston Marches’ anniversary this year?
Fawcett: 'In Bradford, we had a very big celebration for the anniversary of the march with people telling stories and our ‘bring your own museum’ project. People brought along things from their time in the peace movement that meant a lot to them and we archived the items in the Peace Museum. We are very lucky in Bradford to have lots of people who were involved in the early days of the movement, including Michael Randle, one of the organisers of the first Aldermaston March as a member of the Direct Action Committee. It was really nice to hear his input on CND as part of a wider movement and acknowledge that history.'

What has Yorkshire CND been working on lately?
Fawcett: 'Nationally, Yorkshire has been given the responsibility of working on missile defense and space, and that is partly because we have Menwith Hill, which of course is a hot topic in this hemisphere with all of the information that was released in [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden’s report. We also have Flyingdale base, which also has a lot of relevance in terms of the increasing escalation of defense systems. We’ve worked very hard this year on our first 'No Nuclear Day', which was a protest initiative we did with Trident Ploughshares at the DSEI Arms Fair in London. We’ve been down there before, but we felt that because of the very heavy representation of nuclear involved companies we wanted to highlight the issue. We were very pleased with how it went, it was the day with the largest amount of arrests.'

Who are some of the groups that Yorkshire CND tends to work with?
Fawcett: 'We work very closely with Leeds Coalition Against the War and the Menwith Hill Accountability Campaign, which is a continuation of the work done by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases. They both do great work. So what we do is if we are going to hold an event, we try to coordinate with others to be able to hold them in multiple cities since Yorkshire is such a large area. With our upcoming nuclear power talks, we are working with Sheffield Creative Action for Peace and LCAW. We try as much as possible to publish what local organisations are doing. We are lucky to have a lot of active groups, many of which don’t have a web presence, so we try and provide a space where people can explore what is going on nearby. I think it is the role of the regional office to take on more of the administrative and back-end stuff so that these groups can get on with the more exciting campaigning.'

How have Yorkshire CND and its goals grown?
Fawcett: 'I think it has been a process of continuing changes. CND is an organisation that is made by those who are working for it at the time but you see many of the same discussions emerging every decade or so. Parliamentary lobbying versus direct action; discussions on what the most effective method of opposition is. And I think that CND has become pretty good at those conversations and accepting what regional groups want to do for themselves. I’ve been a lifelong member of CND, but working for the organisation has given me a different perspective. Something I hadn’t really realised was the amount of regional autonomy there is. We’re not like other NGOs that have top-down mandates.’

Yorkshire CND can be reached by phone (01274 730 795) or email (info AT yorkshirecnd.org.uk). Check out their website for more information and updates on their latest happenings.

Benjamin Kaplan is a US student reporter working in London with Peace News.

Topics: Nuclear Weapons