Commonwealth Round Table 2018 Debate

Is the Commonwealth a positive force for good?

Birmingham students exploring the potential of the Commonwealth in an exciting debate at Birmingham City Council House

Birmingham City Council Chamber, on 17 January 2018, will see the first of a series of exciting debates in other cities organised by the Round Table on the Commonwealth and the UK’s role. Promoted jointly by the Birmingham Commonwealth Association and the Round Table, the authoritative Commonwealth journal of international affairs (, it aims to bring students, members of the general public and new generations alive to the Commonwealth with people-to-people links praised by statesmen from Winston Churchill to Robin Cook as crucial to the UK’s world role.

Working with student unions, academics and other interested parties like the University of Birmingham or the Birmingham City University, the Round Table wants to challenge received opinion about the Commonwealth in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Queensland and the Commonwealth summit in London, in April 2018. The debate, from 6.30 pm to 8pm at the City Council Chamber will be the first in the series.


Jaspreet Singh, President of the Birmingham City Student Union.

Proposer of the motion:

Nicholas Cheeseman is the Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform. His analysis has appeared in the Economist, Le Monde, Financial Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Wall St Journal, New York Times, Guardian, the Mail & Guardian and the Daily Nation. In total, his columns and articles have been read over a million times.

Seconder: Alana Tomlin, Birmingham University student.

Opposer of the motion:

Keith Stokes Smith, a Chartered Secretary and Accountant by qualification, Founding Chairman of the Birmingham Commonwealth Association (Communities, Education and Trade and Business groups), formerly Group Company Secretary of British Home Stores Plc and subsequently Wickes Plc. Having retired early in 2000, he continued to run his own small property acquisition/development company whilst at the same time expanding his unpaid work in a number of voluntary capacities. He is the Consul for Lithuania in the West Midlands, President of the Birmingham Consular Association, Patron of Birmingham Town Hall/Symphony Hall Chairman, a trustee of Wickes Aid, a Magistrate and Council representative for the Worcestershire bench on the Magistrate Association and founder/President of a number of organisations in South Devon.

Seconder: Darrel Blake, Student of Black Studies, Birmingham City University

PLEASE NOTE: Attendance is free but registration mandatory

Tea and Coffee will be served in the Chamberlain Room from 6pm till 6.30pm.