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  • Gurkhas betrayed once again

    by Rumbold
    24th April, 2009 at 8:02 pm    

    There’s something about Gurkhas which just seems to rile British governments. Despite massive support from opposition parties and a huge groundswell of good feeling across society as a whole, Gurkhas always seem to find themselves the losers, whether it’s to do with pensions or settlement rights. And so the cycle continues:

    “In September 2008, the High Court ruled that immigration rules denying Gurkhas who retired before 1997 - about 36,000 - an automatic right to stay in the UK were unlawful…”

    But the government ignored this, and brought in their own criteria:

    “Campaigners have reacted with anger to new rules on the eligibility of Gurkha veterans to live in the UK. The Home Office said that new rules would allow about 4,300 more to settle, but the Gurkha Justice Campaign said it would be just 100.”

    Settlement criteria:

    *Three years continuous residence in the UK during or after service.

    *Close family in the UK.

    *A bravery award of level one to three.

    *Service of 20 years or more in the Gurkha brigade.

    *Chronic or long-term medical condition caused or aggravated by service.

    Gurkhas retiring before 1997 have to meet one of these criteria, OR two from the following three:

    *Been awarded an MoD disability pension but no longer having a chronic condition.

    *Having been mentioned in dispatches.

    *10 years’ service or a campaign medal.

    On the surface these conditions don’t seem entirely unreasonable. However, as Joanna Lumley points out, only officers tend to serve for twenty years, few if any would have had relatives in the UK, and the only other chance you have got is if you were sufficiently unwell to get a medical/disability pension, or if you performed outstandingly.

    For me, the issue seems quite simple. If you sign up to the British armed forces, then you are willing to risk death to protect me and those I love. In my view, you can come and live here for as long as you want.

                  Post to

    Filed in: South Asia

    32 Comments below   |  

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    1. pickles

      New blog post: Gurkhas betrayed once again

    1. Leon — on 24th April, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

      For me, the issue seems quite simple. If you sign up to the British armed forces, then you are willing to risk death to protect me and those I love. In my view, you can come and live here for as long as you want.

      Totally and utterly agree. This is a fucking shameful way to treat these people.

    2. inders — on 24th April, 2009 at 9:49 pm  


      If you sign up to fight for a country, despite not being a resident of that country, despite having no vote in that country. Then you leave yourself open to mistreatment.

    3. qidniz — on 24th April, 2009 at 9:52 pm  

      Labour, the party of the Left, is pitching with the Gurkhas up at bat.

      The Left only oils the wheels that squeak: Gurkhas neither beg nor whine.

      The Left doesn’t like soldiers, because they don’t like war: Gurkhas are soldiers.

      The Left only bothers with the politically significant: Gurkhas are not Muslim.

      Strike three.

    4. Silent Hunter — on 24th April, 2009 at 10:07 pm  

      Only SCUM vote for Labour!

    5. Damian Grammaticus Is a Loser — on 24th April, 2009 at 11:20 pm  

      Great, who will take these self-loathing losers now? India (thankfully) sure as hell won’t.

    6. fug — on 24th April, 2009 at 11:20 pm  

      They are really a strange relic of history, probably fascinate the establishment imagination as they tick their ‘noble savage’ and ‘martial race’ box.

      I’m interested in what happened within them to turn them from fighters against the east india company to fight other indians under occupation.

    7. Damian Grammaticus Is a Loser — on 24th April, 2009 at 11:22 pm  

      If you were Indian and fought against India during colonialist times FOR the british empire, then you pretty much don’t deserve to live at all.

    8. Damian Grammaticus Is a Loser — on 24th April, 2009 at 11:24 pm  

      ["]For me, the issue seems quite simple. If you sign up to the British armed forces, then you are willing to risk death to protect me and those I love. In my view, you can come and live here for as long as you want.["]

      They know what they were doing; Selling their own people out.

    9. Vikrant — on 25th April, 2009 at 1:38 am  

      If you were Indian and fought against India during colonialist times FOR the british empire, then you pretty much don’t deserve to live at all.

      My friend, 100,000 Gurkhas serve in the Indian army, especially in Kashmir! Just like Britons vast majority of Indians have utter respect for the Gorkhas.

    10. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2009 at 8:31 am  


      That is very harsh. Yes, the Gurkhas are more vlunerable to mistreatment than British citizens. All the more reason then why we should treat them well.

      Damian Grammaticus Is a Loser/SE:

      Let’s for one moment humour you, and agree that any ethnic/religious group who fought for the British empire should be treated badly in the modern age. That means that pretty much the whole of South Asia should be mistreated, as Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fought for the British.

    11. inders — on 25th April, 2009 at 9:29 am  

      Jeez the quality of posters has deteriorated.

      I’m not a Gurkha hater. People will do what they think best for themselves and for their families.

      I just have no belief in the Gurkha myth propogated during the 1857 first war of independence / sepoy mutiny and continued until this day. The formation of British Indian Army division along the lines of ethnicity or race or religion had everything to do with keeping the native populace of British India divided and to keep the British Indian Army divided enough to never rise against the imperial rulers again. This is not conspiracy this is documented fact. 1879 Eden Commission and numerous Punjab Committee recommendations on reform all clearly state this fact.

      People talk about how many Gurkhas died for this country. There were a lot of Indians (modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), soldiers and civilians who died for this country. Some of them had no choice. Most of them weren’t Gurkhas. Gurkhas do not fight for this country, based on survival, nor principle or belief. They fight for this country because they are rewarded better. There is nothing wrong with self interest but to ennoble it with characteristics, beyond that which it is, is wrong.

    12. douglas clark — on 25th April, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      You may wish to compare the shoddy treatment we hand out to Gurkhas and the way the French treat their legionnaires. From Wiki:

      In the past, the Legion had a reputation for attracting criminals on the run and would-be mercenaries, but in recent years the admissions have been severely restricted and background checks are performed on all applicants. Generally speaking, convicted felons are prohibited from joining the service. Legionnaires can choose to enlist under a pseudonym (“declared identity”). This disposition exists in order to allow people who want to start their lives over to enlist. French citizens can enlist under a declared, fictitious, foreign citizenship (generally, a francophone one, often that of Canada or Monaco). After one year’s service, Legionnaires can regularise their situation under their true identity. After serving in the Legion for three years, a legionnaire may apply for French citizenship[6]. He must be serving under his real name, no longer have problems with the authorities, and must have served with “honour and fidelity” for at least three years. French nationality cannot be granted under a declared identity. Furthermore, a soldier who becomes injured during a battle for France can apply for French citizenship under a provision known as “Français par le sang versé” (”French by spilled blood”).

    13. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2009 at 9:58 am  


      I disagree. Whatever reason people have for joining the military, part of the grand bargain is that we treat them as well as we can after they have left the service. I am sure that many Briitsh soldiers joined at least in part because of the pay/conditions. But that doesn’t matter. Risking your life for me and others puts a soldier beyond the normal calculations.

    14. Tim Worstall — on 25th April, 2009 at 10:23 am  

      Rumbold, finally something we actually agree upon.

      The thing that makes my head explodey is, well, WTF are they doing? Why are they doing this? What possible justification can there be for not offering the citizenship that 98% of the population would be overjoyed about being delivered?

    15. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2009 at 10:33 am  


      Yes, it is baffling. The would be no backlash, even if 100,000 Gurkhas and their families turned up.

      I tend you agree with you a lot on economic matters, but not so much on social matters, as I find UKIP’s immigration policy too BNP-esque for my tastes.

    16. inders — on 25th April, 2009 at 10:45 am  

      Rumbold, If a soldier signs on because a certain set of pay/conditions and then retires. And then tries to renegotiate those terms and conditions afterwards.

      Is that moral ? Is that right ?

    17. fug — on 25th April, 2009 at 11:49 am  

      i suppose the gurkhas serving the british epitomise what the brown sahibs and monoculturalists out there want the world to do.

      bow down and serve the queen.

    18. MaidMarian — on 25th April, 2009 at 11:52 am  

      Rumbold - Tough one.

      As I understand it (and I am happy to be corrected), this issue is not about UK military service in itself. The court accepted that UK military service is not a route to immigration. I know that some countries, like France, do have a military route but the UK does not.

      What the court ruling was about was that duration and ‘quality’ of service should be an explicit factor in immigration decisions in these cases. Hence the, as you say, not totally unreasonable set of conditions.

      Now I agree with the view that there probably should be a military route to immigration, but that should not be a carte blance. Most of the internet blood baths about immigration issues are not about the principle of letting people in, it is about the conditions and their laxity or otherwise. And also for immigration for direct family, a point missing from the article.

      By all means have a military route - but I can’t agree with your carte blanche in the last sentence.

    19. douglas clark — on 25th April, 2009 at 12:29 pm  

      MaidMarian @ 18,

      but I can’t agree with your carte blanche in the last sentence

      Why not?

    20. MaidMarian — on 25th April, 2009 at 1:22 pm  

      douglas clark (19) -

      Because issues about quality and duration are valid concerns. This does not just apply to the possible military route.

      My view (and I know some will not agree) is that my wife should not have been given residency simply by being married to me - there was a qualifying period, and she had to do things like not get arrested.

      I am sure others will disagree with me, but to my mind simply signing up is not IN AND OF ITSELF a qualifier. I think that the line should not be overly strenuous and, on balance the conditions for the gurkhas are probably overly tough.

      Where to draw the line is something that couldbe debated endlessly.

    21. mk1 — on 25th April, 2009 at 1:40 pm  

      The Gurkhas joined under certain terms and conditions. They did not include right of settlement so why then are they so suprised and shocked at the way they’ve been treated?

    22. NG51 — on 25th April, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

      because of the issue of pre and post97. with yesterdays ruling, only officers of pre-97 group qualify to settle in UK now. that is why campaigners are saying the number of Gurkhas qualifying will be 100-200. this is because for Staff Sergeant and below, pre1997 Gurkhas could only serve maximum of 19 years. if you were in my father’s place who served 19 and half years, saved two british soldiers’ lives during the Balkan conflict, won three gallantry medals (but not 1-3 level stipulated by the Home Office) you still would not be deserving. One elderly ex-Gurkha who once guarded the Queen and is now in hospital will now likely be deported because he did not serve 20 years. wasn’t it only a year ago that the British High Consul in Nepal denied the legendary Victoria Cross Winner Tul Bahadur Pun entry to UK because he had not ‘demonstrated strong ties to the UK’? It was only after the massive public outcry that the decision was overturned. It is in these times that we need your support, not scrutiny over terms and conditions. over 200 year period of our close ties with UK and its kind people, has there been one incident where a Gurkha has let Britain or the British public down? now compare that proud and unblemished heritage with others that call UK home now…
      many thanks.

      Proud daughter of a brave Gurkha soldier.

    23. douglas clark — on 25th April, 2009 at 3:08 pm  

      If what NG51 says is right - that a Ghurka of Staff sergeant and below could not serve more than 19 years is is an bigger stitch up than even I thought.

      I’d have assumed that you, MaidMarian, wouldn’t have set as stringent a criteria as that?

      My own feelings about this are that there was a public outcry against the original government proposals and what we are seeing is governmental bloody mindedness. They do not like their cozy little world challenged.

    24. MaidMarian — on 25th April, 2009 at 4:30 pm  

      douglas clark (23)

      ‘I’d have assumed that you, MaidMarian, wouldn’t have set as stringent a criteria as that?’


    25. Rumbold — on 25th April, 2009 at 5:25 pm  

      Inders + MK:

      For most things, I would agree. But there are two reasons why this is different. Firstly, the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 altered the Gurkhas’ position. And secondly, they shouldn’t have been so badly treated in the first place.


      I think that anyone who enlists for a number of years (say 5+) should be allowed to stay in Britain forever. Ten years’ would get you nationality.

    26. MaidMarian — on 25th April, 2009 at 10:56 pm  

      Rumbold -

      Yes, if anything 5 years sounds a bit high to me. The marriage period is three years and that is a good analogue. But this isn’t what the article says.

      I agree that, as I understand it, there is a reasonable argument that the Gurkhas are a unique case.

    27. DThapa — on 26th April, 2009 at 3:33 pm  

      Gurkhas dont get because they have to get, they get because they deserve. Getting and deserving are two different things.

      But its very sensible to say or think they neither get nor deserve because they were the contracted soldiers, fair enough but where did the pre and post 1997 come from? I am very sure the contracts both pre and post have are exactly the same.

      ok one possible reason for post 97 could be the contributions towards NI and Inland revenue but pre 97 never got to choose a place to serve so they could make not only 3 years but 12. Having said so my father who is pre 97 Gurkha was in the UK for 6 months in 70s in course of work(with the British Army) made a great effort without success to track down his NI number or something where his tax went to when he was in the UK, obviously the salary he got was after the tax deduction, now where did his contribution to the NI go? In MoDs pocket? How corrupted the Ministry of defence can be.

      Definitely if Gurkhas are granted the Indefinite leave to Remain it costs Tax payers money, a manipulating saying of the MoD, needless to say in the time of recession, but hey has the European border being blocked? We work our arse, teeth and nail off to survive and are ashamed to claim benefits. and the figure provided on the Pre 97 by MoD is very very very false. Even so some have died, many physically disabled, many simply dont want to be here.

      Not the public of this country but the government want someone who blows up the buses and trains and claims all the benefits available. Mr. Brown loves the destroyer and hates the protector. Little children share their sweets with the bullies always.

      I would like to thank each and every public for your greatest support.

      A grand daughter and a daughter of a Gurkha!

    28. damon — on 26th April, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

      I hope I’m not the only person who finds the support for the Gurkha’s from (the normally right wing) Daily Mail readers and Talk Sport radio listeners a bit perturbing.
      I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other (but would always say yes to people who really wanted to live in the UK).,1518,512384,00.html
      ”More than 30,000 foreign troops are enlisted in the US Army, many of them serving in Iraq. Their reward for risking their lives for their adopted country is US citizenship.”

      I found that (above) article on this google search:

    29. inders — on 27th April, 2009 at 5:50 pm  

      NG51 I’d argue that a whole bunch of Ghurkas let humanity down by firing into an unarmed crowd in 1919.

      No race of people are innately superior to any other race of people. No-ones record is perfect.

      People served in a particular army. People want to live in a particular country. Fine. But I’m not having any of this, Ghurka are so loyal crap. Because every time I hear a white person say it, i can hear just under their breath ‘they could ALMOST be British.’ Its a backwards tradition having a armed division drawn under lines of race. Its a backwards tradition having a division entirely made up of people from a different country.

    30. Jai — on 28th April, 2009 at 1:29 pm  

      Interesting article about all this from The Independent, by YAB:

      The comment thread afterwards follows an interesting path too, especially when some BNP types decide to throw their 5 cents into the debate.

    31. damon — on 12th May, 2009 at 2:58 pm  

      This opinion from those Spiked people says it a bit better than Yasmin AB in my opinion.

      ”Turning Gurkhas into a new ‘Victim Race’
      The bizarre Battle of the Excluded Gurkha, led by Joanna Lumley, sheds light on the crisis of meaning in today’s Tory and Labour parties.”

      ”The Gurkha campaign shows the extent to which the traditional wing of the elite – the Telegraph-reading, Tory-supporting officer classes, for whom the Gurkhas have always been ‘loyal friends’ – has embraced the politics of victimology over old-fashioned ideals of militarism and superiority. And it shows the extent to which the current ruling section of the elite – the non-officer-classes of New Labour – is now so bereft of purpose and direction that it can be rattled by the so-called ‘forces of conservatism’ it claimed to have defeated in the late 1990s. ”

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