Joanna Lumley’s chickens come home to roost in someone else’s home

In Horatio’s post of 12th February 2011 “Reality Knocks (again)”, he predicted that the actress Joanna Lumley’s successful campaign to get Britain to allow all serving Gurkhas to settle in this country with their dependants and most of those who had already retired on pension to their home country Nepal, would in reality result in huge costs and dislocation to the people in Aldershot where most would end up being the UK base of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

This campaign of Lumley’s, which started under the Labour government, has required the British government to break its long-standing agreement with the Nepal government to return Gurkha soldiers to Nepal at the end of their 4-year contracts, which before Lumley got in on the act, no-one, least of all the Gurkhas themselves, had seriously questioned (see post).

The government of course predicted that few would want to come (like the number of 13,000 Poles or other East Europeans predicted by the Labour government as likely to come to Britain after 2004 – as opposed to the 1.3 million who have actually come, an error of a factor of 100 – is this an error record?)

Actually, Horatio’s prediction of 7,000 for starters was pretty accurate as already around 9,000 Gurkhas have come to Aldershot.  Many are elderly and do not speak English.  There are actually over 30,000 who have entitlement to come, along with their dependants, who would completely swamp the local people and the medical, housing and educational services, living on benefits for the rest of their lives (they retire at 32).

What has been the reaction of local people?  Two internet-based groups have been set up to pressure the government into “dispersing” the Gurkhas somehow.  The Gurkha Welfare Society wants “public funding” (of course).  The local council is lobbying the government for “assistance” (of course).

What should the Government do?

The first step is to stop any more Gurkhas coming by rescinding the blanket instruction to the UK Border Agency to issue them with visas on demand.

The second step is to persuade as many as possible of those who are already in the UK to return home to Nepal where their generous Army pensions will allow them to live in relative luxury, respected by their relatives and neighbours, and bring a much needed benefit to the Nepalese economy.

The third step is to tell Ms Lumley and her misguided English supporters that their campaign has been a (predicted) disaster for the people of Aldershot, and for the Gurkhas themselves, and to stop their agitation to dig an even deeper hole.

The Gurkhas served the British Army very well for 200 years.  By the standards of the time they were very well-rewarded.  This was well-known in Nepal: there are even today over 20 applications for every post in the British Army from that country.

This period is now at an end – the British Army, with a target of only 85,000 soldiers by 2020, absolutely does not need the Gurkha Brigade.  Indeed if it were retained it would mean perversely closing down several of the most famous UK regiments in the British Army.

Britain has done well by the Gurkhas.  Our people are truly tired of self-appointed, ill-informed guardians of our national conscience passing burdens on to the third generation born since the British Indian Empire came to an end in 1947,

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