Monday, 27 April 2009

Yes Minister

"Yes Minister, Volume 1" by the Rt.Hon. James Hacker, M.P.
(edited by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay) : A Review

This book is a derivation from the television series of the same name. However, Messrs. Lynn and Jay have cleverly "edited" the book so that it is a mixture of diary (like Crossman), civil service memoranda and minutes. It is remarkably well-informed about political and civil service stratagems, while at the same time, retaining much of the humour of the television series.
Here is an extract from a memorandum by Sir Humprey Appleby, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Administrative Affairs:
"There has to be some way to measure success in the Civil Service. British Leyland can measure success by the size of its profits. However, the Civil Service does not make profits or losses. Ergo, we measure success by the size of our staff and our budget. By definition, a big department is more successful than a small one."
The Civil Service Code Language

As everyone is aware, the civil service often uses a cryptic and obscure variety of the English language. The following translation may help the layman understand this oblique language; it is taken from "Yes Minister, Volume 1", edited by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, and represents comments made by civil servants to Government ministers:
"I think we have to be very careful." Translation: We are not going to do this.
"Have you thought through all the implications." Translation: You are not going to do this.
"It is a slightly puzzling decision." Translation: Idiotic!
"Not entirely straightforward." Translation: Criminal
"With the greatest possible respect, Minister..." Translation: Minister, that is the silliest idea I've ever heard.

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