Dundee West Labour MP’s u-turn on Gurkhas

It was good to see the Labour Westminster Government suffering a symbolic defeat this week when MPs voted by 267 to 246 on a Liberal Democrat motion to give all Gurkha soldiers equal right of residence in Britain.   See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8025658.stm.

As Nick Clegg said afterwards, “This is a historic victory for the Gurkhas who have served our country so bravely.”
Nick highlighted that “this Government has now lost its moral authority. From the first moment I challenged Gordon Brown on this over a year ago, he didn’t understand that there was a simple moral principle at stake.”
What, however, is astonishing is the hypocrisy of those Labour MPs – including Dundee West MP Jim McGovern – who announced support for Gurkhas to remain in the UK but then voting to boot them out of the country.

An “Early Day Motion” (EDM) supporting the right of Gurkhas who had served in the British Army to stay in the UK was signed by Jim McGovern on 29th April. Although no debates or votes are held on EDMs, they are used by MPs instead to show their support for a particular cause.

On the very same day, the House of Commons voted on a full parliamentary motion that called on the Government to scrap new rules that would lead to thousands of Gurkhas being kicked out of the country. The motion was passed by the Commons even though most Labour MPs, including Jim McGovern, voted against it.

The ‘McGovern U-Turn’ must be one of the most rapid ever. Labour MPs owe the Gurkhas an apology and their constituents an explanation. I hope they will at least now press the government to bring back new proposals that allow the Gurkhas to stay.