What about the Gurkhas?

It’s unfashionable to quote Kipling, so I will.  I have recently acquired a rather nice Folio Society edition of Kipling’s selected verse. In his wonderful poem  “The Ballad of East and West” we find this splendid line: “So thou  must eat the White Queen’s meat, and all her foes are thine”.  That,  broadly speaking, is what we in Britain have said to the Gurkhas, and  they have eaten the White Queen’s meat, and fought in the White  Queen’s wars, for more decades than I care to remember.  They have  done so, broadly speaking, with courage, and discipline, and  determination, not least in the Falklands War, where the rumour of their coming and the threat of their kukris struck terror into the  hearts of the Argentines.
With little publicity, they continue to contribute honourably to today’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We used to let them go home on rather modest pensions.  Since 1997, we have  improved their pensions.  And we have allowed those who left the  service recently to settle in England.  But we deny those rights to  Gurkhas who left the service more than a decade ago. This is  shameful.  Surely those who fought in the British Army, in Britain’s  wars, deserve better, and the older ones perhaps have the greater claim on us.
We are prepared to let in every Tom Dick and Harry from around the world (including the legendary one-legged roof-tiler).  We have EU  citizens, economic migrants, illegals to whom we turn a blind eye, and “asylum seekers”, some with rather limited credibility.  We have  organised criminals and gangs and people-traffickers.  We let them all  come, in their hundreds of thousands.  Yet we fail to offer a place to  those small numbers of Gurkhas who have given their best years, and risked their lives, for us and for our country.  It will not do.
Both the Conservative Party, and The Freedom Association (which I have  the privilege to Chair), have criticised our government’s failure, in  a host of ways, to honour the Military Covenant (I published a prominent article on this in the March issue of Compass magazine). The Gurkha issue is a small part of the duty we owe to our soldiers,  but it is a key test of our commitment. We cannot ask them to fight for us, and then throw them out at the end of their careers. Those who have eaten the White Queen’s meat deserve better of us.

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2 Responses to What about the Gurkhas?

  1. William Ferguson says:

    Tell the whole story, about how they were happy to return home on what in Nepal, was a very good pension. Tell about the EU rules that allowed those who had to be based in the UK after Hong Kong was returned and how Nepal is now a Moaist regime and anyone with a few shillings would want out especially the Gurkas. It’s funny though when I read about Gurkas and Britain, I wonder do they not fight as hard for their regiments in the Indian Army or the few in the FFL are they just dossers? It’s Gurka. Full Stop. They fight for their pride and prowess and the Queen’s shilling, Rupee or Euro and up until recently didn’t give a toss if Britain sank into the sea once they had gone home.
    I expected better from our Govt than to give in to a populist reaction because it was championed by an actress. Holy cow Jade Goody was lauded as a STAR, funny now she is dead they decide not to provide smeat tests for 20 year old women, the Star is dead, forget about any populist reaction. You would be better to have said nothing on the subject or concentrated on fighting for the populist desire for a referendum on Lisbon and OUR future freedoms instead of a few foreign legionaires.

  2. Anthony D Beardsley says:

    I for one am very grateful and immensely proud to have the Gurkhas in the Armed Services.

    I personally extend my heartfelt best wishes to a very brave band of men who have served us loyally, honourably and have suffered at times the inevitable fate that conflict sadly brings, therefore they totally deserve all the benefits that come their way BECAUSE THEY HAVE EARNED THEM!!!


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