Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Gurkhas - bloomin' hundreds of them

There was a big protest outside the Houses of Parliament by ex-gurkhas who are demanding the right to carry on living in the UK at the end of their service. The current rules are that any gurkha who left service before 1997 has no right to live in the UK.

The protest was organised by the former Lib Dem candidate for Folkestone (where many gurkhas are based) Peter Carroll. The centrepiece was the handover by many gurkhas of their long service and distinguished conduct medals to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Nick believes that anybody who has fought for this country and risked their life for this country should have the right to live in this country. More on his views here.

Nick went on to raise the matter at Prime Minister's Questions, holding up one of the medals that had been handed to him. Gordon Brown blustered about the changes that have been made to increase gurkha pensions (which are still lower than other UK forces troops) and the right for soldiers who left service after 1997 to live here.

But the fact remains that there are many gurkhas who left before 1997 who are being deported. That is shameful on the part of the Government. These are some of the bravest and least complaining servicemen in our armed forces who volunteer to serve a foreign army and yet we treat them terribly.

The Tories also oppose automatic residency rights saying the situation is 'complicated'. Not from where I sit.

Pics: Nick Clegg with ex-gurkhas handing back their medals outside the Houses of Parliament; Protest organiser Peter Carroll with Nick Clegg sopeaking tot he hundreds of gurkhas present; One ex-gurkha with his medals shortly before handing them back.

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