This week we witness some moments where Jim Hacker, Minister and then Prime Minister, struggles to master the tricks of the Civil Service Trade…

His Growing Awareness

Jim Hacker (to Sir Humphrey): In private industry, if you screw things up you get the boot; in the civil service if you screw things up I get the boot.

You cannot call Civil Service delays ‘tactics’. That would be to mistake lethargy for strategy.

The opposition are not the real opposition. They are the government in exile. The Civil Service is the opposition in residence.

Bernard Woolley: Shall I file it?
Jim Hacker: File it? Shred it!
Bernard Woolley: Shred it??
Jim Hacker: Nobody must ever be able to find it again.
Bernard Woolley: In that case, Minister, I think it is best I file it.

His Attempts to Reduce the Civil Service

Jim Hacker: Twenty-three thousand. In the Department of Administrative Affairs. Twenty-three thousand people just for administering other administrators. We have to do a time-and-motion study, see who we can get rid of.
Sir Humphrey: We did one of those last year.
Jim Hacker: And ?
Sir Humphrey: It transpired that we needed another 500 people.

On Understanding the Foreign Office

Jim Hacker: Apparently, the White House thinks that the Foreign Office is full of pinkoes and traitors.
Bernard Woolley: No, it’s not. Well, not full.

Foreign Office is a hotbed of cold feet.

The letters JB in capitals are one of the highest Commonwealth honours. They stand for ‘Jailed by the British’. The order includes Gandhi, Nkrumah, Makarios, Ben Gurion, Kenyatta, Nehru and many other world leaders.

The United Nations is the accepted forum for the expression of international hatred.

On being Prime Minister

It’s the people’s will. I am their leader; I must follow them.

Sir Humphrey: The Prime Minister doesn’t want the truth – he wants something he can tell Parliament.

The government is not a team, it’s a loose confederation of warring tribes.

Jim Hacker: Yes, well, this is serious.
Chief Whip: Very serious.
Sir Humphrey: Very serious.
Jim Hacker: What could happen if either of them became PM.
Sir Humphrey: Something very serious indeed.
Chief Whip: Very serious.
Jim Hacker: I see…
Chief Whip: Serious repercussions.
Sir Humphrey: Serious repercussions.
Chief Whip: Of utmost seriousness.
Jim Hacker: Yes, that is serious.
Sir Humphrey: In fact, I would go so far as to say that it could hardly be more serious.
Jim Hacker: Well, I think we all agree, then: this is serious.

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