Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Labour lose Gurkha vote

If they are willing to die for Britain then they should be allowed to live in Britain. It is a pretty compelling argument, that a relatively small number of Gurkha ex-soldiers and dependents should have the right to live in Britain, if they chose to do so. So, it is a mystery why it has taken a lengthy campaign and court action to get to the point where this is the case. The further mystery was why the government then tried to weasel out of the commitment by hedging residence with so many rules that only a few would qualify. Leaving aside the things like, well, right and wrong, the politics of the situation should have given them pause. Gurkhas enjoy widespread and cross-party support. In opposing them the Labour government has managed to make a great many enemies and seems conniving and unpleasant as well. Gordon Brown was savaged by Nick Clegg in Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon and then lost a vote in the Commons on a motion to grant the Gurkhas full rights. You would have thought that even if they were not motivated by respect for men prepared to put themselves in front of a Taliban bullet on our behalf then political self-interest would play some sort of role in their calculation. As it is, even if they were to climb down tomorrow the damage has been done. Many in the military, and many outside of it, will never forgive the Labour government for the way they have behaved over this.

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