UK MP criticises actress who campaigned for Gurkhas

A British MP has criticised actress Joanna Lumley, who campaigned for rights of the Gurkhas, for failing to visit his constituency since Gurkhas who retired before 1997, won the right to settle.

PTI| Updated: Sep 12, 2014, 22:29 PM IST

London: A British MP has criticised actress Joanna Lumley, who campaigned for rights of the Gurkhas, for failing to visit his constituency since Gurkhas who retired before 1997, won the right to settle.

Sir Gerald Howarth, a Tory MP who represents Aldershot, said that many of the constituents he represents were "aggrieved" as the actress had been "nowhere near" since the victory in 2009.

Aldershot, a town in the English county of Hampshire, has seen a marked influx of Gurkhas and their families.

"Many of my constituents feel extremely aggrieved that Joanna Lumley ran this campaign, this very emotional campaign. She has been nowhere near Aldershot since, as far as I am aware," he claimed during a back-bench debate on Gurkha pensions and terms of employment in the Commons.

He also highlighted the plight of some older ex-servicemen, who are unable to speak English, a "tragic consequence" of the campaign.?

However, he accepted many of the early problems had been addressed by a series of initiatives aimed at securing social cohesion.

"The problem does not lie with the younger, recently retired veterans, who speak good English and are very entrepreneurial. Many of them find work in the private security industry or start their own businesses."

"The problem arises with the older former Gurkhas, generally unable to speak English, with virtually no job prospects, unfamiliar with our customs and often with failing health, inevitably because they are elderly."

"This has been a tragic consequence of Lumley's campaign, which was based purely on emotion and not on the hard truths with which we politicians have to deal on a day-to-day basis."

She and her campaign have done a major disservice to these elderly people and to the indigenous population, which has seen the character of Aldershot change massively, he said.