“Parliamentary democracy is, in truth, little more than a means of securing a periodical change in the management team, which is then allowed to preside over a system that remains in essence intact.”—Tony Benn (via in-the-midst-of-winter)
Nigel Hawthorne (Sir Humphrey Appleby), Derek Fowlds (Bernard Wooley), Paul Eddington (The Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker)
Illness has struck the Pensiers: at least two members of our household have spent the last six days walking around in various states of poor health. To fill up the gaping maw of daylight hours while I cough, snort, wheeze, and expel various unpleasant substances…
Sir Humphrey: “Notwithstanding the fact that your proposal could conceivably encompass certain concomitant benefits of a marginal and peripheral relevance, there is a countervailing consideration of infinitely superior magnitude involving your personal complicity and corroborative malfeasance, with a consequence that the taint and stigma of your former associations and diversions could irredeemably and irretrievably invalidate your position and culminate in public revelations and recriminations of a profoundly embarrassing and ultimately indefensible character.” Jim Hacker: “Perhaps I can have a précis of that?”
Civil servants are trying to lose the ‘Sir Humphrey’ image
9 December 2010
The British Civil Service has launched a PR campaign to rid itself of its ‘old boys’ network’ image.
But one former senior civil servant claims he was judged on the basis of his northern accent, ‘on countless occasions’.
Middlesbrough-born Martin Narey rose to become director general of the Prison Service.
But he says even then he encountered prejudice, because of his regional accent.
"Very frequently, when I would meet a group of officials from another department and we’d exchange initial hellos, the assumption was always that someone other than me was the person in charge, and it was because of my accent."
Hardened lags do horrible things. So do MPs. Can you tell who did what? Are they more David Laws or Breaking The Laws? MP or HMP? You decide. And then we tell you the answer. That’s how quizzes work. (If they’re both MPs and crims, answer ‘MP’)
Jim Hacker: “Humphrey, do you think it is a good idea to issue a statement?” [as a response to the planned speech of the President of Buranda urging the Scots and Irish to fight against English oppression] Sir Humphrey: “Well, Minister, in practical terms we have the usual six options: One, do nothing. Two, issue a statement deploring the speech. Three, lodge an official protest. Four, cut of aid. Five, break off diplomatic relations. And six, declare war.” Jim Hacker: “Which should be it?” Sir Humphrey: “Well, if we do nothing we implicitly agree with the speech. Two, if we issue a statement we’ll just look foolish. Three, if we lodge a protest it’ll be ignored. Four, we can’t cut of aid because we don’t give them any. Five, if we break off diplomatic relations we can’t negotiate the oil rig contracts. And six, if we declare war it might just look as though we were over-reacting.”
Sir Humphrey: “Minister, you said you wanted the administration figures reduced, didn’t you?” Jim Hacker: “Yes.” Sir Humphrey: “So we reduced the figures.” Jim Hacker: “But only the figures, not the number of administrators.” Sir Humphrey: “Well of course not.” Jim Hacker: “Well that is not what I meant.” Sir Humphrey: “Well really Minister, one is not a mind-reader, is one? You said reduce the figures, so we reduced the figures.”
Sir Humphrey: “But if they don’t send us the information and the plans and the requests for permission, well, what are we here for?” Jim Hacker: “Good question. What are we here for?” Sir Humphrey: “To collect the information, inspect the plans and withhold or grant permission.” Jim Hacker: “And if we didn’t?” Sir Humphrey: “I’m sorry, Minister. I don’t understand.” Jim Hacker: “If we weren’t here and we didn’t do it, what then?” Sir Humphrey: “I’m sorry, Minister. You’ve lost me.” Jim Hacker: “You know, your trouble is that you’re more concerned with means than ends.” Sir Humphrey: “There are no ends in administration, Minister, except loose ends. Administration is eternal.” Bernard Woolley: “Forever and ever…” Bernard & Sir Humphrey: “…amen.”
“Apparently, the fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt the information he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not, at that time, known or needed.”— Bernard Wooley
Sir Humphrey: “Don’t you believe that Great Britain should have the best?” Jim Hacker: “Yes, of course.” Sir Humphrey: “Very well, if you walked into a nuclear missile showroom you would buy Trident - it’s lovely, it’s elegant, it’s beautiful. It is quite simply the best. And Britain should have the best. In the world of the nuclear missile it is the Saville Row suit, the Rolls Royce Corniche, the Château Lafitte 1945. It is the nuclear missile Harrods would sell you. What more can I say?” Jim Hacker: “Only that it costs £15 billion and we don’t need it.” Sir Humphrey: “Well, you can say that about anything at Harrods.”
Sir Arnold: “I presume the Prime Minister is in favour of this scheme because it will reduce unemployment?” Sir Humphrey: “Well, it looks as if he’s reducing unemployment.” Sir Arnold: “Or looks as if he’s trying to reduce unemployment.” Sir Humphrey: “While as in reality he’s only trying to look as if he’s trying to reduce unemployment.” Sir Arnold: “Yes, because he’s worried that it does not look as if he’s trying to look as if he’s trying to reduce unemployment.”
Name of local taxation mentioned in the YPM episode Power to the People and The National Education Service.
As the name says these are red colored boxes or suitcases that contain all government papers that a minister must work on at home. As a minister Jim Hacker usually had around 3-5 red boxes to take home each night.
Another word for communists, mentioned in the YPM episode A Victory for Democracy.
Regional Contracts Officer
Civil servant with a responsibility for contracts under regional laws. Sir Humphrey was a regional contracts officer at the Scottish office, as mentioned in the YM episode The Skeleton in the Cupboard.
Sir Humphrey: “Well perhaps you could advise me, Prime Minister. Particularly if the questions are aggressive.” Jim Hacker: “Oh, the more aggressive the better. That puts the listeners on your side.” Sir Humphrey: “Nonetheless I may have to answer them.” Jim Hacker: “Why? You never answered my questions.” Sir Humphrey: “That’s different, Prime Minister.”
Acronym for Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization. Quangos’ official purpose is to allow for the public to influence government planning and legislation. Unofficially however quango vacancies are used to reward political friends or to buy some people’s loyalty or support. Quangos are excellently covered in the YM episode Jobs for the Boys, were Sir Desmond Glazebrook is looking for a quango appointment. Frank Weisel despises the quango practice and tries to change it in that same episode. However he fails and becomes member of a quango.
Quango Abolition Paper
Paper that Frank Weisel wrote to end the misuse of quangos for rewarding political friends. He tries to end all the jobs for the boys, but ends up with getting a job for the boys. Featured in the YM episode Jobs for the Boys.
Weekly event in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister can be asked questions relating to current events. In the YPM episode The Tangled Web Jim Hacker describes his triumph during Question Time.
Sir Humphrey: “So I gather, you denied that Mr. Halifax’s phone had been bugged?” Jim Hacker: “Well obviously, it was the one question today to which I could give a clear, simple, straightforward, honest answer.” Sir Humphrey: “Yes, unfortunately although the answer was indeed clear, simple and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated and the facts insofar as they can be determined and demonstrated is such as to cause epistemological problems of sufficient magnitude to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bear.” Jim Hacker: “Epistemological? What are you talking about?” Sir Humphrey: “You told a lie.” Jim Hacker: “A lie??” Sir Humphrey: “A lie.” Jim Hacker: “What do you mean a lie?” Sir Humphrey: “I mean you … lied. Yes I know, this is a difficult concept to get across to a politician. You ….. ah yes, you did not tell the truth.”
Sir Humphrey: “And with respect, Prime Minister, I think that the DES will react with some caution to your rather novel proposal.” Jim Hacker: “You mean they’ll block it?” Sir Humphrey: “I mean they’ll give it the most serious and earnest consideration and insist on a thorough and rigorous examination of all the proposals, allied with detailed feasibility study and budget analysis, before producing a consultative document for consideration by all interested bodies and seeking comments and recommendations to be included in a brief, for a series of working parties who will produce individual studies which will provide the background for a more wide ranging document, considering whether or not the proposal should be taken forward to the next stage.” Jim Hacker: “You mean they’ll block it?” Sir Humphrey: “Yeah.”
Michael Gove got stuck in the toilet on his first full day as government Chief Whip, according to Labour’s Shadow Leader of the Commons, Angela Eagle.
The former education secretary was given a new job in charge of party discipline in this week’s reshuffle.
Ms Eagle told MPs he had not had the “most auspicious of starts”.
She said that on Wednesday Mr Gove “managed to get stuck in the toilet in the wrong lobby and he nearly broke his own whip”.
The new Leader of the Commons, William Hague, offered a light-hearted defence of Mr Gove, saying “knowledge of who is in the toilets in whatever lobby is a very important piece of information for any chief whip and I take this as evidence that he was carrying out his duties very assiduously”.