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Brown outgunned by Lumley-led Gurkhas

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Joanna Lumley’s father fought with Nepalese Gurkha soldiers during World War Two. The late Major James Rutherford Lumley would no doubt have been proud of the way his actress daughter fought a brilliant campaign with veterans of that brigade to win the right to settle in the UK based on the simple premise that if you are good enough to die for this country you are good enough to live in it.

As Lumley and triumphant Gurkhas sipped tea in the garden of Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have done well to take Lumley aside and ask for her secret.

Widely regarded in these parts as a national treasure, the former model whose acting career spans four decades has smiled, wept and glowered her way through a guerrilla-style campaign that brought an entire government to heel. The sight of diminutive Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, himself no shrinking violet, visibly wilting under Lumley’s gaze two weeks ago at a news conference she had literally forced him to attend to explain himself was not for the faint-hearted — although he probably should have known better than to take on someone who once appeared in a television show called “The Avengers”.

Brown’s spokesman wouldn’t be drawn on whether Joanna Lumley might become “Dame Joanna”, but he was gracious enough to say that the prime minister is a “great admirer of her campaigning skills”. Perhaps he should consider a position for her when he next reshuffles his Cabinet.

Is the government being unfair to Gurkhas?

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Nepalese Gurkhas have a long and justifiably proud history of serving alongside Britain – Gurkha units fought with the East India Company in India as early as 1817. Over the years, the Gurkhas have developed a reputation for tenacity, bravery and dogged loyalty to their adopted army.

But when it comes to giving something back once they have finished their military service, Britain has something of a mixed track-record on the Gurkhas and has even been accused of disloyalty.

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