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May 13, 2011

6

Friday Fun: Some realpolitik from Sir Humphrey

by quaesitor
Scarfe Yes PM

Have decided to start a new regular slot: Friday Fun. Well, the weekend is just round the corner so why not?

This week we have some lessons from Sir Humphrey Appleby, that great mandarin of mandarins.

His Humility

Agnes Moorhouse: Animals have rights too, you know. A battery chicken’s life isn’t worth living. Would you want to spend your life packed in with 600 other desperate, squawking, smelly creatures, unable to breathe fresh air, unable to move, unable to stretch, unable to think?

Sir Humphrey: Certainly not; that is why I never stood for Parliament.

US/UK Relations

Jim Hacker: Humphrey, who is it who has the last word about the government of Britain? The British Cabinet or the American President?

Sir Humphrey: You know, that is a fascinating question. We often discuss it?

Jim Hacker: And what conclusion have you arrived at?

Sir Humphrey: Well, I must admit to be a bit of a heretic. I think it is the British Cabinet. But I know I am in the minority.

On Cabinet

There is no point in the Cabinet questioning the Treasury. On the rare occasions when the Treasury understands the question, the Cabinet does not understand the answers…

Prime Ministers have little choice in forming governments. There are only 630 MPs, and a party with just over 300 MPs forms a government – and of those 300, 100 are too old and silly to be ministers and 100 too young and callow. Therefore, there are about 100 MPs to fill 100 government posts. Effectively no choice at all…

On the Prime Minister

If asked if he wants to be Prime Minister, the generally acceptable answer for a politician is that while he does not seek the office, he was pleased to offer himself to the service of his country, and that should his colleagues persuade him that is the best way he can serve, he might reluctantly have to accept the responsibility, whatever his personal wishes might be…

Things don’t happen just because Prime Ministers are keen on them. Neville Chamberlain was keen on peace…

Prime Ministers have had no proper selection of training, so it is our patriotic duty to arrange for them to make the right decisions as often as possible…

The Prime Minister gets his own car and driver, free air travel, a nice flat in central London, a house in the country, endless publicity, lots of banquets, a decent salary and a pension for life. It is unpardonable greed if he also wants to take over from the Civil Service the job of running the country…

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 13 2011

    Fabulous. Still the sharpest of comedy writing and a pertinent today as it was 30 years ago when they wrote it. Never forget that Hacker became PM for opposing the EU’s attempts to ban the British sausage in the so called euro-sausage debacle!

    Reply
    • May 13 2011

      ah yes, that legend in its own life-time, the Emulsified High-Fat Offal Tube

      Reply
  2. May 13 2011

    Thanks for a few laughs at the start of a manic weekend.

    Still loving this series. Jane and I have really enjoyed watching some old episodes recently. Current favourite is the one which includes a chain-smoking Minister for sport!

    Reply
  3. Anne Burnett
    May 13 2011

    I still love this. It never dates.

    Reply
  4. May 13 2011

    It is certainly as superb as ever!
    Thanks for sharing this, Mark!

    Reply

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