Sunday 27 December 2009

Ayo Gorkhali, Ayo Joanna Lumley

The government of Gordon Brown has been inept, pathetic, incompetent, and laughable in turn since about 2-3 weeks after he was elevated to Prime Minister in his ‘Buggin’s Turn’ promotion in 2007.

Although there may have been more far reaching muddles and incompetence in the last two and a half years, no other situation has quite tugged at the nation’s heartstrings like the story of the Gurkhas.

We all know the story. Most people felt that if you were good enough to risk your life fighting for Britain, not as a mercenary, but in a constituted part of the British Army, then the least the British Government could do would be to offer you a home here in retirement. Labour felt differently; it would cost a great deal of money. And, being a government with a solid majority, that was that, despite opposition from both Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

But the Government reckoned without Joanna Lumley.

The daughter of an officer in the 6th Gurkha Rifles whose life was saved during the war by one of his men, Tul Bahadur Pun, Lumley was brought up in Malaya. Her acting career in Britain started in the 60s as a “dolly bird” secret agent type in “The New Avengers” and she went on to play similar roles including in “Sapphire and Steel” with "Man from Uncle" star David McCallum. In the 90s she became the beloved drunken druggie patsy in Absolutely Fabulous (the star of the show for me). Clearly, however, there is a deal more to Ms Lumley than that.

When you followed it on tv and in the papers, it was obvious from the start that Woolas and Brown didn't stand a chance. Brown told the Commons that the Government was looking into the case of the five Gurkhas who wanted to come to Britain “as a matter of urgency”, only for the five men to receive letters of rejection the next day. (Way to go Brown... How much more incompetent can you get?)

Lumley and her fellow campaigners were set to denounce the Government at an impromptu press conference when she chanced upon Mr Woolas. Negotiations were held and the two of them addressed the cameras. “I think we are all agreed that we are going to be able to help in the formulation of new guidelines,” Lumley announced, daring Mr Woolas to contradict her. “So that will be wonderful.” The minister blathered about “proper processes”, his face a mixture of fear and wonderment at this creature who seemed to have taken every ounce of any power he ever had. Victory was inevitable.

Since then Joanna Lumley has visited Nepal where she was feted as a national hero and had a mountain named after her. Today she was named The Times’s Briton of the Year.

Congratulations Joanna. Job done!

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