- Sir Humphrey: The identity of the official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent discussion is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume; but not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question is, it may surprise you to learn, one whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.
Hacker: I beg your pardon?
Sir Humphrey: It was… I.
- “Two kinds of government chair correspond with the two kinds of minister: one sort folds up instantly and the other sort goes round and round in circles.”
- “If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”
- “It is sometimes difficult to explain to Ministers that open government can sometimes mean informing their Cabinet colleagues as well as their friends in Fleet Street.”
- “Minister’s language: ‘We have decided to be more flexible in our application of this principle’ means ‘We are dropping this policy but we don’t want to admit it publicly’. “
- “A career in politics is no preparation for government.”
- “There has to be a nuclear bunker in Whitehall. Government doesn’t stop merely because the country has been destroyed. Annihilation is bad enough. Without anarchy to make it even worse.”
- “Seven ways of explaining away the fact that North-West region has saved £32 million while your department overspent:
a. They have changed their accounting system in the North-West.
b. Redrawn the boundaries, so that this year’s figures are not comparable.
c. The money was compensation for special extra expenditure of £16 million a year over the last two years, which has now stopped.
d. It is only a paper bag saving, so it will have to be spent next year.
e. A major expenditure is late in completion and therefore the region will be correspondingly over budget next year. (Known technically as phasing – Ed)
f. There has been an unforeseen but important shift in personnel and industries to other regions whose expenditure rose accordingly.
g. Some large projects were cancelled for reasons of economy early in the accounting period with the result that the expenditure was not incurred but the budget had already been allocated.”
- “The Opposition aren’t really the opposition. They are only the Government in exile. The Civil Service are the opposition in residence. “
- “The Prime Minister doesn’t want the truth, he wants something he can tell Parliament.”
- “Civil Service language: ‘Sometimes one is forced to consider the possibility that affairs are being conducted in a manner which, all things being considered and making all possible allowances is, not to put too fine a point on it, perhaps not entirely straightforward.
Translation: ‘You are lying’.”
- “Britain should always be on the side of law and justice, so long as we don’t allow it to affect our foreign policy.”
- “Foreign policy must be made in the Foreign office. It cannot be left to fools like Fleet Street editors, back-bench MPs and Cabinet Ministers.”
Yes Minister Quotes
Yes Minister is a satirical British sitcom written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn that was first transmitted by BBC Television between 1980 and 1984, split over three seven-episode series. The sequel, Yes, Prime Minister, ran from 1986 to 1988.