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1 May 2009

Ghurkas and more

The plight of the Gurkhas, Obama's 100th day and Jarvis Cocker in our weekly round-up of the politic

By Paul Evans

Ayo Ghurkali!

Nick Clegg had a storming week. In just one day he managed to “own” (as the kids say) over Gurkha resdiency at PMQs, achieve his party’s greatest ever parliamentary victory and meet Joanna Lumley. In his day, Ashdown might have conversed with the heroes in Ghurkali before flying off in a helicopter – but Clegg can still be quite pleased.

Reflecting on the party’s campaigning success, Alix Mortimer called the vote a “narrow but highly significant victory,” while fellow Lib Dem John said: “We have raised our head above the parapet showing our elan and instincts”. Sam Crawley was “filled with pride and hope” at the day’s events, in which the Lib Dems “led the way”.

“I have a vested interest in this story – having visited Nepal four times, I have met many from the various tribes – Nepalis, Sherpas and others,” he explained, adding that: “they are amongst the most friendly, hospitable and hard-working peoples in the world, and I have come away each time with new friends and warmth from the way in which I was hosted.”

Delight crossed party boundaries. On the right Croydonian analysed the rebels and abstainers and on the left Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy was “delighted” by the Prime Minister’s humiliating defeat in the Liberal Democrat opposition day vote. Noting grumbling among some Labour bloggers over the characterisation of the issue as a defeat for government misanthropy, he wrote:

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“Where was the campaign by pro-Gurkha Labour MPs to try and rally opinion amongst MPs, the party and amongst the wider public to not only force the government to backtrack, but also make a distinction between where many within the party stood and where Phil Woolas and Gordon Brown stood?”

Some defence of the government was offered by James Mills on Labour List. He argued that “the negative press which Labour has been getting on this is frankly a disgrace,” positing that the extension in pension and citizenship rights over the past 12 years compares favourably with the record of previous Conservative administrations. Elsewhere, Hopi Sen ventured “I’m generally of the opinion that stories like this are usually more complex than they look. But as a question of political strategy, it’s pretty simple.”

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Indeed, it was apparent from his appearance at PMQs that, as Mark Reckoned: “You could tell from Brown’s evasive and unconvincing responses that he just did not get how strong the feeling on this issue is”. Yet in a time when parliament has increasingly come to be regarded with contempt – Wednesday’s vote may restore a little faith.

What have we learned this week?

That Nadine Dorries objects to being referred to as “Mad Nad” – because it is “incorrect”. She describes Bedford’s mayor, Frank Branston, as “overweight, sweaty, unpleasant, shrill and politically opportune”. What is worse: making derogatory remarks about someone’s mental health or about their propensity to perspire? I simply don’t know.

Around the World

Up on Capitol Hill, Wonkette was live blogging Obama’s 100th day, injecting some necessary levity into generally grave and pompous analysis of an arbitrary date.

Video of the Week

Jarvis Cocker now believes that we need a Tory government. But despite recent rave rumours, this blog remains convinced that Dave is not, and never has been, Sorted for Es and Wizz.

Quote of the Week

“At least one Labour MP was on hypocrite heat, drooling about how dreadful was his government and demanding a rethink on the Gurkhas by putting his signature to a pro-Gurkha early day motion only for him the very next day to vote the opposite and back the government’s policy of booting most Gurkhas out of Britain. David Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, hang your head in shame.”

Jonathan Wallace