What sort of people do we want in the UK?

Doctors? Engineers? Refugees from torture? No, the consensus is apparently that the people we most want are third-world mercenaries.

Not quite sure why ‘being a mercenary who signed up in the full knowledge they’d get a giant sack of money and no British passport’ ought to put one to the top of the ‘British passport’ queue… but who am I to judge the Great British Public?

In view of our navy’s struggle to maintain greatness, perhaps we could draft the Somalian pirates next…

15 thoughts on “What sort of people do we want in the UK?”

  1. Hmm. I think you're stretching the meaning of mercenaries just a little too far there. But it is funny to see the Sun campaigning for an influx of c.35K foreigners (plus families) on the grounds of justice. Whereas, presumably, sending cancer victims back to Malawi to die is just putting Britain first.

  2. I confess that in my contrary way my first re-action to the Gurkha dispute was that they knew what they were signing up for so that's that. However, in the 30, 40 or more years since these men signed on, this country has seen fit to let in every scallawag in the world on the flimsiest of pretexts so I can't help thinking that a few thousand Gurkhas might come in handy one day.

    To be slightly more serious, there does exist a bond of mutual respect and friendship between the us and the Gurkhas which they earned the hard way over the last 200-odd years. As we have an open-door policy for everyone else, why not them?

  3. I idly wonder what the effect on Nepal is going to be, since retired people don't usually send remittances.

  4. Hmm, it's already mission accomplished for this post, isn't it?

    But… Isn't the UK an awful, impoverished, oppressive, cold, wet, violent place where no-one in their right mind wants to live any more? So why do *they* want to live here?

  5. I don't know, on a matter of principle, preparedness to fight and die for a country ought to incur some kind of debt of gratitude, particularly when they do so on somewhat less favourable terms than our regular troops.

    I guess its the fact that armed service and citizenship have been tied together since Napoleon. If being a citizen incurrs the potential obligation to fight, then shouldn't fighting result in citizenship?

    Although it's true that the Sun et al have no sense of consistency if they believe that one set of impoverished people who come to this country to do a job that most of our citizens don't want to do, and buy into the 'idea' of Britain are 'good' and another set are 'bad'. To a greater or lesser extent the economic migrants who prop up the NHS and look after our elderly are performing as important a civic role as the Gurkhas, the main difference being the risk of death – which just supports the change allowing Gurkhas to stay.

  6. Interesting point, dsquared. An army pension goes a long way in Nepal. A lot of those retired Gurkhas are the big man in the village.
    34,000 of them (I assume that's soldiers, not soldiers plus relatives) on an average pension of say £5000 makes £170 million. Compared to a GDP of £20 billion. So, we're talking about an instant drop of about 1% of GDP… nice.

    The "justice" element is that residency is already the right of any Gurkha who left after 1997, so it seems a bit unfair to deny it to those who left before 1997. It is, by definition, a shrinking problem anyway.

  7. David Duff: "As we have an open-door policy for everyone else, why not them?"

    Doesn't the fact that we're even having this discussion show you that this so-called "open-door" policy is nothing of the sort? Or do you really think that the government has actually gone out of its way to prevent Gurkhas' from settling here, imposing restrictions that don't apply to anyone else?

  8. Ajay,

    Gurkha pensions (pre 97 retirement) are more like £600 a year than £5,000. 0.1% of GDP.

    "In view of our navy’s struggle to maintain greatness, perhaps we could draft the Somalian pirates next…"

    Strangely, we did exactly this over Hong Kong. Those who run the shipboard Chinese laundries got a different passport status to the average Hong Konger (too long ago for me to recall all the details).

  9. Sorry folks. I got that 35K figure from an unreliable source*. The true figure is nearer 23K.

    *A government Minister speaking in the House of Commons.

  10. In a surprising reversal of the normal state of affairs, Tim Worstall has (correctly) pointed out that I have got my facts wrong.
    Fortunately for my peace of mind, Worstall, being Worstall, has also got his facts wrong. Total pensions to Gurkhas in Nepal are now about £54 million. (Admittedly this is a government minister talking; but he gets the number of pensioners right. I suspect 34,000 is total ex-Gurkhas, and 26,500 is just the number living in Nepal.) http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wms/?id=2009-03-20a

    So that's about, what, 0.3% of GDP. Not huge. But not negligible either.

  11. "That's a coherent comment, for newmaniac," I thought. So I googled a chunk, and yep, it was copy-and-pasted. He nicked it, in other words.

    BTW: What's wrong with Hong Kong? It's a free-market utopia over there, isn't it?

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