Ghurkas coup for Conservatives

BIRMINGHAM: THE Conservatives have pulled off a major publicity coup against their rivals by demonstrating their support for the cross-party campaign to give justice to the Ghurkhas.

Graham Dines

BIRMINGHAM: THE Conservatives have pulled off a major publicity coup against their rivals by demonstrating their support for the cross-party campaign to give justice to the Gurkhas.

A large number of the former British soldiers are being employed as security guards at this year's annual conference in Birmingham.

There are parliamentary demands for regimental members and their families to be given British citizenship and rights of entry into the UK after serving heroically on behalf of this country in a growing number of conflicts.

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By general agreement, the Gurkhas have been shabbily treated by successful UK governments. Let's hope that the collective consciousness of our three main parties has been pricked at last.

MEMBERS of Colchester Conservative Club, who had to answer the call of nature recently, rubbed their eyes in amazement at the sight which greeted them in the urinals.

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Dressed in dickie bows, shirts, dinner jackets and just boxer shorts were Essex North MP Bernard Jenkin, London mayor Boris Johnson and Colchester Tory stalwart Kevin Bentley, who were sharing a laugh as they got ready for a black tie do.

My informant was too gobsmacked to see what designs were on the boxer shorts and fortunately, to spare the blushes of the grand dames of the Tory hierarchy, the shameless trio did don trousers in time for their dinner.

BRITAIN'S second city has certainly turned on the style for the Conservative Party this week, with a conference venue and top hotels fit for the 21st century.

Labour and Liberal Democrat fraternal delegates, who are in Birmingham to gauge the success of the behind-the-scenes operation, will no doubt have noted how smoothly the Tory conference is going and that the ring of steel thrown around the complex by West Midlands police has the twin virtues of security and unobtrusiveness.

Although Labour are in Brighton next year and the Lib Dems in Bournemouth it is beginning to look like the beginning of the end for the traditional seaside conferences. With the Conservatives in Manchester next year, it would not surprise me if the three B's - Blackpool, Bournemouth, and Brighton - eventually become distant memories, to be replaced by Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

A FORMER British ambassador to Italy is urging the Boundary Committee to leave Suffolk alone and abandon its plans to create up to three unitary authorities. Lord Bridges, who lives at Orford, criticised the cost of the upheaval, which would result in the county and its seven districts being abolished and replaced by all-purpose councils with redundant staff having to be bought out and their pensions topped up.

Lord Bridges wants to safeguard the historic role of Suffolk. “When King Alfred pushed the Norse invaders into the North Sea, he set up counties as the basic unit of government. The proposed changes would deprive us of an inherited sense of identity which serves us so well. The present Government prefers piecemeal social engineering. This I find profoundly superficial.”

If an Old Etonian with a sense of history is vexed enough to come to the county's defence, who'd bet against the Government chucking in the towel and aborting the whole project.

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