Joanna Lumley's emotional need to repay her debt to the Gurkhas is understandable, if a little spooky in its father-worship. But the delights of her public therapy session should not prevent us asking the serious question of why Britain is still hiring mercenaries from the poorest parts of the world. We should be fighting our own wars, not siphoning the most able young men from a tiny state which needs their energies much more than we do.
As usual, Nick Clegg hit the nail on the thumb when he said that those prepared to fight for this country should be allowed to live here. The truth is the reverse, that only the British should be asked to lay down their lives in defence of Britain. Poor countries should not be treated as pools of cheap hired killers doing the dirty work of much richer and more powerful countries.
The current contract granted a pension on return home which enables Gurkhas to take a leading part in Nepalese society, providing whatever skills and experience they might have acquired. Now, not only will Nepal be drained of even more manpower, but once they are gone, they will be unlikely to return. What we will gain on the fast food counters, Nepal will lose in its community councils and education system.
The khukris are out for the government, and this affair provides another hapless cabinet lamb for the block. But it is a triumph of jingoism over sense, and histrionics over government.
La Lumley's populist campaign has given the tabloids another chance to wave the flag and revel in war fever, thereby selling more papers. These are the same tabloids which daily demand British Jobs for British Workers. They are able to simultaneously push the BNP line while also supporting British Military Jobs for Foreign Mercenaries, which is a phenomenal act of mental contortionism. But then, the tabloids are produced by highly trained minds, able to jump through all kinds of intellectual hoops on command. Oxbridge trained minds, in some cases. Some of whom even went to Westminster School and studied anthropology at Cambridge University. ...