Watching Joanna Lumley give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (I haven't seen Keith Vaz so excited since he took Shilpa Shetty to Parliament), I suddenly realised what ministers don't understand. Sure, the Gurkhas understood the terms of their employment when they signed up; no agreement has been broken. Sure, they have seen action serving the people of Bosnia and Iraq rather then Britons directly. But what has changed the argument is immigration. In the past ten years it has doubled to the current staggering total of 1,500 a day. If we are to let so many settle here, why shouldn't that include veterans who have fought for our Queen and country? This question just didn't occur to Brown & Co.
The idea of a worrying influx of Gurkhas doesn't make sense to the average voter, when net immigration is taking place at the equivalent of a city the size of York every year. It is this British sense of fairness that is offended, and the feeling that Gurkhas - like the Hong Kong Chinese in the mid 90s - would be an asset to the country. Hearing ministers voicing concerns about the cost of Gurkha immigration doesn't wash when they will not even listen to concerns about wider immigration. So all hail, Ms Lumley. Brown richly deserved this defeat, and I'm delighted it was over such a worthy cause.