The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The British Way of Doing Business

To compensate for its tardiness in declassifying papers from a century and a half ago, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has chosen to release some rather sensitive documents from 1984. Correspondence between the Foreign Office and the Home Office (then headed respectively by a bumbling nasty called Geoffrey Howe and by one Leon Brittan, who with Kenneth Baker accounted for almost seventy per cent of the Thatcher administration's capacity for slime production) indicates that Britain connived at Indira Gandhi's disastrous attack on the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Indian government puts the death toll at four hundred; others say it ran into thousands, even before Gandhi's subsequent assassination and the attacks on Sikhs which followed. One letter proclaims Howe's "favourable" response to an Indian request for assistance in planning a raid, and the dispatch of an SAS officer to India; another, from Thatcher's own secretary, conveyed the old bag's blessings and decreed that Brittan should be warned in advance of any fun and games.

The whole business is a bit embarrassing for Daveybloke, who visited India last year and had a bit of a simper about the Amritsar massacre of 1919, during which British troops fired for ten minutes into a crowd of civilians in a most uncivilised fashion, without the use of drones or water-cannon or anything; although it is arguable that Brigadier Dyer's order to block the exits represented a pioneering effort at kettling. The British government put the death toll at three hundred and seventy-nine; others said it ran to well over a thousand, and Michael Gove presumably blames the Germans. Mindful of the sensitivities of Britain's Sikhs, Daveybloke has ordered his senior ink monitor, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to conduct an urgent investigation into how best to spin the matter and why the papers in question were not held back for a more opportune time.


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