CND Cymru is 40!
The year 1981 was momentous for the peace movement in Wales. Local CND groups were springing up all over the country and organising marches, public meetings and petitions. Protect and Survive, the UK Government guide on how to make our homes and families “as safe as possible under nuclear attack” had been published the previous year. It suggested we could survive by sheltering under the stairs! It was quickly followed by the excellent CND pamphlet Protest and Survive by the historian and peace campaigner EP Thompson, which exposed the reality of nuclear war and the cruel deception of civil defence.
CND Cymru was formally constituted in Newtown in September 1981. The existing and very active local CND groups across Wales came together to form a national body to coordinate and strengthen their work.
It was created because it was needed. There was no greater demonstration of its success than the landmark Nuclear Free Wales declaration in 1982, supported by each of the eight County Councils at the time.
There was real fear of imminent nuclear war. The announcement that 96 American Cruise Missiles were to be deployed at the Greenham Common air base in Berkshire was the catalyst for another march and the creation of a peace camp that became a global symbol.
Under the Women for Life on Earth banner, women, children and some men set out from Cardiff on a hot August day to walk in stages to Greenham – myself amongst them. Forty years on we can thank all the women involved in this remarkable, brave and inspirational protest that succeeded eventually in ridding the Common of its hideous nuclear weapons and restoring the land to the people.
The peace movement in Wales is community-based and therein lies its strength. There were Greenham women in every town and village. Some had never been to the camp but could be part of the protest at a local level.
CND Cymru was everywhere, just as the Greenham women were everywhere. Our distinctive banners with the daffodil symbol became a beacon for those campaigning for peace, justice and a sustainable future.
As someone who has served as Chair of CND Cymru twice during that time, I never cease to be amazed by the commitment, passion and courage of our activists.
In celebrating our birthday, our only regret should be that we still need to exist – that nuclear disarmament is not yet a reality. So – we are not going to go away!
Jill Evans, CND Cymru Chairperson
There’s a brief account of our first 40 years here.