CBRD 2012

Whatever the mainstream media might have you believe, republicanism is not delimited to a casual anti-monarchism. For CBRD 2012 we decided to draw attention to the possibilities for Civic Republicanism—active and conscientious citizen participation—in contemporary Wales.

The Assembly offers opportunities for citizen initiative via the Petitions Committee. People have the opportunity to suggest legislation, and provided sufficient names are gathered via petition, the proposals are then considered by the committee. This is a positive, albeit limited channel for those outside of professional politics to impact the decisions affecting their lives—a crucial tenet of republicanism.

Such possibilities had been restricted by the Assembly’s own limitations under the LCO (Legislative Competence Order) system. However following the March 2011 on greater legislative powers, Assembly Members now have considerably more room for manoeuvre. Which is to say, greater hypothetical room for manoeuvre; so, we looked around for an issue that might put this new autonomy to the test.

For CBRD 2012 we launched a new petition and campaign against military recruitment in schools in Wales. An issue which had the potential to either, 1) Cause great strain between Cardiff and London should our Assembly ministers decide to legislate in favour of the children under their care, or 2) Bring out into the open the true priorities of our Assembly Members, and their preference for serving the interests of their London overlords rather than the people of Wales.

To lead the campaign and petition we called upon Cymdeithas Y Cymod, the Welsh arm of the global Fellowship of Reconciliation movement comprising numerous faith groups agitating for peace. Support was also offered by United Nations Association Cardiff, whose chair Prof. Robin Attfield welcomed us to use the Temple of Peace building, their headquarters in Wales, for an evening of talks to help launch the campaign. On a warm evening in June the Temple's council chamber was filled with over one hundred attendees, who listened to speeches from CND Cymru, Plaid Cymru Youth, various writers, faith groups, and campaigners.   

We were aware that those who themselves as 'Welsh republicans' had previous raised this issue, but scuppered any hope of success by confining themselves in willful obscurantism. As a result of our contact with them, such groups as CND Cymru and Cymdeithas Y Cymod brought the issue to mass attention via television news stories and radio interviews.