Tuesday, March 25, 2008

See? I knew I wasn't a racist

Not only do I think they should be here, but if they're not getting full pensions for their service to this country, someone ought to be strung up.

Daily Mail:
Gordon Brown was facing a growing Labour revolt last night over the Government's "pathetic" treatment of Gurkha veterans.

More than a dozen Labour MPs are calling for an end to the "arbitrary" rule which bars retired Gurkhas from taking British citizenship if they left service before 1997.

Plus a bonus. Anything that involves a "growing Labour revolt" against Brown is music to my ears.

The grievances of the Gurkhas are legitimate and long-standing. You could be forgiven for imagining that they were resolved in September 2004, when Tony Blair, then prime minister, announced after an 18-month Whitehall review that Gurkhas who had served with the British Army and wanted to settle here with their families would be allowed to apply for citizenship.

The Government confirmed it would change immigration rules to let them stay. Prior to that decision, they had no pension rights, no leave to remain in the UK, and could not apply to become British citizens. David Blunkett, then the Home Secretary, said: "We have put together the best package to enable discharged Gurkhas to apply for settlement and citizenship. I hope this decision makes our gratitude clear."

But note the weasel word "discharged" in that statement; and, indeed, the devil was in the detail. The change meant that only Gurkhas who have served at least four years and were discharged after July 1, 1997 - the date at which the brigade's headquarters moved to the UK from Hong Kong - would be eligible for "fast-track" citizenship.

Gurkhas are best known for their history of bravery and strength in the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas and the Indian Army's Gorkha regiments.

Gorkha is one of the 75 districts of modern Nepal.

The Gurkhas were designated by British officials as a "Martial Race". "Martial Race" was a designation created by officials of British India to describe "races" (peoples) that were thought to be naturally warlike and aggressive in battle, and to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, the ability to work hard for long periods of time, fighting tenacity and military strategy. The British recruited heavily from these Martial Races for service in the colonial army.

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