Thursday, May 21, 2009

I take my hat off to... Joanna Lumley the Gurkha's 'Goddess'

Following the wonderful news today of the government's U-turn on the Gurkhas, I really have to take my hat off to this remarkable lady, Joanna Lumley who led the Gurkha Justice Campaign to ultimate success, after a long battle, with Government.

Joanna Lumley, seen on the right with David Cameron, Bob Russel and the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg celebrating the Gurkha vote against the government two weeks ago, has won the hearts of so many of us across the country in the process of this campaign.

Speaking on behalf of the Gurkha Justice earlier today, Joanna said:

"We simply would not have won this fight without the massive, overwhelming support of all those who have supported our campaign.

To the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed Gurkha Justice petitions, lobbied their MP, campaigned, attended rallies and marches - thank you so much to you all. This is your victory. It would not have happened without you.

The whole campaign has been based on the belief that those who have fought and been prepared to die for our country should have the the right to live in our country. We owe them a debt of honour - a debt that will now be paid.

I am delighted, and humbled, at what has been achieved by our remarkable team."

Joanna Lumley's words, as always are very dignified, modest and humble. I think we all know that had it not been for her leadership and aplomb in the handling of such an effective campaign, the Gurkhas would have been waiting for their rightful justice for a very long time to come... if ever!

Whilst I have no doubts, many in the Gurkha Justice Campaign team have put a great and valiant effort into bringing about a successful conclusion to the Gurkha cause, I'm sure I echo the sentiments of most of the British people, in thinking that they would not have been able to swing it, without this amazing woman's charismatic leadership.

In Admiration of our Purdey

Originally uploaded by Hilly_Blue

I'm sure like many of you, I have been a long time admirer of Joanna Lumley, long before she ever came to prominence with the Gurkha Justice Campaign... or indeed with 'AbFab' (Absolutely Fabulous)!

Joanna Lamond Lumley, OBE (born 1 May 1946) is an English actress, best known for her roles in the British television series The New Avengers, Sapphire and Steel, Absolutely Fabulous and Sensitive Skin. She is also a former model, a human rights activist (best known for her support for the Gurkhas and the exiled Tibetan people and government) and an animal welfare activist.

As Purdey, Joanna was a character in the British TV series The New Avengers screened in 1976-77. She was the delicious bob-cut haired spy working for British intelligence, partnering John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt).

Gurkha Justice Campaign

In 2008 she became the public face of a campaign to provide all Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army before 1997 the right to settle in Britain. Those serving after 1997 had already been granted permission but the UK Government had not extended the offer to all of the Gurkhas, who are natives of Nepal.

Gurkhas have served Britain for more than 200 years with over 50,000 dying in service, and 13 have been awarded the Victoria Cross. On 20th November 2008, Joanna Lumley led a large all party group including Gurkhas starting from Parliament Square to 10 Downing Street with a petition signed by 250,000 people (including yours truly).

In her support of the Gurkha Justice Campaign, on 24th April 2009, she stated that she was 'ashamed' of the UK administration's decision to affix five criteria to the Gurkhas' right to settle in the UK. With the support of both Opposition parties and Labour rebel MPs on 29th April 2009 a Liberal Democrat motion that all Gurkhas be offered an equal right of residence was passed by Parliament, thereby forcing the resistance of Ministers like Phil Woolas and the Prime Minister's hand, to have to rethink their earlier decisions and with the event, make a spectacular U-turn, as announced today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

When asked by a BBC reporter, why she had fronted the Gurkha Justice Campaign, she replied, with her usual humility and great dignity:

"I did it in memory of my beloved father, for my love and respect of the Gurkha and for the people of Britain, who wanted this to happen!"

The amazing and at times humourous (unintentionally I'm sure) campaign Joanna Lumley has run on the Gurkha's behalves has won the esteem and respect of many across Britain. Some are even calling for her to run for Parliament, though as far as I know, she has not commented on this possibility.

One wag on my Facebook home page called for her to be elected Prime Minister (not the only place I have heard this call). I replied, reminding my friend that there will shortly be a vacancy for Speaker of the House of Commons:

"She's done pretty well, leading these naughty boys by the nose so far... she only just stopped short of pulling Minister Phil Woolas' ear the other day! I'd certainly give her my vote if I could."

I am full of admiration for this Lady, who has shown such dignity, humility and sheer panache, bringing much badly needed integrity and pride back into British homes and public life... and I take my hat off to her! I hope she is made a Dame now... she thoroughly deserves it and we could well do with people like her in the 'Lords'!


As I said in my earlie post today... I do also hope the BNP are listening... and squirming!!

More information about Joanna Lumley @ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia