As he prepared to leave Amritsar, the Cameron explained why he had decided against issuing an apology. "In my view," he said, "we are dealing with something here that happened a good 40 years before I was even born, and which Winston Churchill described as 'monstrous' at the time and the British government rightly condemned at the time. So I don't think the right thing is to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologise for.
Well, yeah. The best reason for Cameron not apologizing is that no one would have believed him, especially since he was there on a trade mission. Also, if British PMs started aoplogising for our many misadventures during the lively history of the Empire, they'd never be able to stop. Every time they got on a plane they'd have to go through a briefing document on some forgotten incidence of rapine or slaughter and practice pulling weepy faces.
Maybe what we should try for is an apology, but a kind of 'cynical realist appreciation' of past misdeeds. "Dudes, we had a little bit too much fun that afternoon, but let's face it, there's nothing like a massacre to give a righteous independence movement a good kick up the arse. And now here we are, talking turkey and no hard feelings. Ah, is that my martini made from freshly squeezed baby tears? Why, so it is!"
Anyway, it’s also worth pointing out that British opinion on the massacre was not monolithic, and that Dyer had a lot of support from within the Conservative Party in particular and from that part of the UK population which happened to be governing India at the time. In Kipling’s words, Dyer was ‘the man who saved the Empire.'
There are a couple of odd similarities between then and now: a Conservative/Liberal government in London and a conservative versus reactionary split on the right, now embodied by the Kippers. I can’t bring myself to look, but I bet there’s some grumbling over in the British fever swamp about ‘apology tours’ right now.
Anyway, Cameron then went off to the Golden temple, where I’m sure his hosts were too polite to mention Udham Singh.