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.”
Jim Hacker: “Do tell me why the Foreign Office is worried [about sending an airborne battalion to St. George’s Island]? I am fascinated.”
Sir Humphrey: “Well, it is a very sensitive part of the world. Unstable.”
Jim Hacker: “They are always telling me how stable it is.”
Sir Humphrey: “Hum…well, yes, yes…indeed it is. But it is an unstable sort of stability.”
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.”
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.”
" An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern”.
"Britain is the only colony in the British Empire and it is up to us now to liberate ourselves".
"This huge Commission building in Brussels, in the shape of a cross, is absolutely un-British. I felt as if I were going as a slave to Rome; the whole relationship was wrong. Here was I, an elected man who could be removed, doing a job, and here were these people with more power than I had and no accountability to anybody…My visit confirmed in a practical way all my suspicions that this would be the decapitation of British democracy without any countervailing advantage, and the British people, quite rightly, wouldn’t accept it. There is no real benefit for Britain"
Diary entry (18 June 1974), quoted from Against the Tide. Diaries 1973-1976 (London: Hutchinson, 1989), p. 180, p. 182.
" t is wholly wrong to blame Marx for what was done in his name, as it is to blame Jesus for what was done in his".
" The key to any progress is to ask the question why? All the time. Why is that child poor? Why was there a war? Why was he killed? Why is he in power? And of course questions can get you into a lot of trouble, because society is trained by those who run it, to accept what goes on. Without questions we won’t make any progress at all”.