Thursday, April 30, 2009

A good day for the Gurkhas- and parliamentary democracy.

Pic courtesy Peter Brookes, The Times 30th April 2009

The shock defeat of the government yesterday by just 21 votes over the issue of allowing Gurka former solders, their families and dependants to settle in the UK is great news; not just for for the Gurkas themselves of course (and surely they are the most deserving of groups?) but also a great day for parliamentary democracy. Parliament works best when backbenchers find their voice, especially over issues such as this and this is the first time a government has lost an opposition day debate since James Callaghan had a bloody nose in January 1978.
The Gurkhas have quite some connection with with Southern Hampshire as the King's Royal Rifle Corp, which later became the Royal Green Jackets, fought with the Gurkhas in the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and Winchester is home to the Gurkha museum. while just down the road, in Ampfield is the Sir Harold Hillier Garden and Arboretum where the Gurkha memorial garden which commemorates the Gurkha soldiers who have given their lives in the service of the Crown (not even their country) is situated.
How did our local MPs vote? As usual, a depressing story. In thrall of the whips, Denham and Whitehead voted with the government to keep the Gurkhas out, while shockingly Lib-Dem MP Sandra Gidley missed the vote as did even more amazingly did Winchester MP Mark Oaten. Perhaps Gidley and Oaten didn't feel it a matter of significant importance to warrant their attendance? If so, a damning indictment of their political priorities.
It will be interesting to see if this is the beginning of the political end-game for Brown now. Personally, I doubt he will be able to recover not least due to today's almost certain humiliation over his proposals regarding MP's expenses. And as Labour MPs peer into the political abyss after Labour's meltdown of the forthcoming European elections, they will surely strike?
P.S. There are some fairly good Gurkha restaurants locally for people that like mainly dry, Nepalese curries;the first two are both run or owned by Gurkha veterans.
The Gurkha Kitchen in Canute Road is probably the best of the bunch, situated in an old 'beer house' off Ocean Village and pleasingly decorated with a varied menu and good service .
The Gurkha Chef, is just down from the Railway station in Winchester and while a little faded, is always busy but you are at the mercy of which staff are on duty as the service can be a bit variable.
A third, untried (by me) is the Gurkha Kitchen in Parchment Street in Winch.


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