Humorous Quotes from
Yes Prime Minister
- History dealt somewhat roughly with Hacker as Prime Minister; but readers of his full diaries will see some justice in this, since Hacker as an author dealt even more roughly with history.
- So long as there is anything to be gained by saying nothing, it is always better to say nothing than anything.
- ‘I gather,’ he replied disdainfully, ‘that he was as drunk as a lord – so after a discreet interval they’ll probably make him one.’
- The first rule of politics is Never Believe Anything Until It’s Been Officially Denied.
- I was scrupulously careful not to tell lies. [There is, of course, a significant difference between not telling lies and not telling the truth. ‘The truth’ in politics means any statement that cannot be proved false – Ed.]
- Typical lobby correspondent. If he was the sole entrant in an intelligence contest, he’d come third.
- He appears to believe that the purpose of our defence policy is to defend Britain. Clearly in this modern world this is an impossibility. Therefore, the only purpose of our defence policy is to make people believe that Britain is defended.
- They assume that our defence policy is designed to make the Russians believe that we are defended. This is absurd. Our policy exists to make the British believe Britain is defended – the Russians know it’s not.
- Things don’t happen just because Prime Ministers are keen on them. Neville Chamberlain was very keen on peace.
- Splendid woman, Mrs. Wainwright. Upright. Downright. Forthright.
- Lots of people have the power to stop something happening - but almost nobody has the power to make anything happen. We have a system of government with the engine of a lawn-mower and the brakes of a Rolls-Royce.
- The electorate would interpret this as defeatism. It’s not, though! It’s the truth! And I am going to fight it. [We do not believe that Hacker wanted his readers to believe that he intended to fight the truth – Ed.]
- ‘When there is a genuine conflict of interest, Bernard, which side is the Civil Service really on?’
This time he replied without hesitation. ‘The winning side, Prime Minister.’
- It is true, doubtless, that some civil Servants are incompetent, but certainly not incompetent enough for a politician to notice.
- The guerrillas are going to be helped by East Yemen – or, to give it its full title, the People’s Democratic Republic of East Yemen. Like all People’s Democratic Republics it is a communist dictatorship.
- The PM should worry more about the oily places than the Holy Places.
- The potential problem with the PM: Like all inhabitants of 10 Downing Street, he wants to take his place on the world stage. But people on stages are called actors. All they are required to do is look plausible, stay sober and say the lines they are given in the right order. Those that try to make up their own lines generally do not last long.
- The opposite of peaceful coexistence is warlike non-existence.
- It has been argued by some people that the policy of partition always led to Civil War. It certainly did in India and Cyprus and Palestine and Ireland. This was no bad thing for Britain. It kept them busy and instead of fighting us they fought each other. This meant that it was no longer necessary to have a policy about them.
- The basic rule for the safe handling of Foreign Affairs is that it is simply too dangerous to let politicians get involved with diplomacy. Diplomacy is about surviving till the next century – politics is about surviving till Friday afternoon.
- A Flash Telegram arrived Dick read it, and informed us that East Yemen are preparing to invade St. George’s Island in support of the Marxist guerrillas. BW thought this was bad news. It is, of course, moderately bad news for the government of St. George’s – but it’s very good news for the guerrillas.
- Politicians are like children – you can't just give them what they want, it only encourages them.
- One never trusts anyone that one has deceived.
- It would, after all, be a black day for Britain if the politicians started running the country.
- ‘Taxation,’ said Humphrey loftily, ‘isn’t about what you need. The Treasury does not work out what it needs and then think how to raise the money. The Treasury pitches for as much as it can get away with and then thinks how to spend it.
- At The Sleeping Beauty one might have thought he (Jim Hacker) was auditioning for the title role. He has no interest in the arts ...
- ‘It’s safer to be heartless than mindless. The history of the world is the triumph of the heartless over the mindless.’
- If he had 75,000 a year, a knighthood, an index-linked pension and a bunch of politicians to take the blame for all his mistakes, he informed me, he would be pretty smug too.
- Bishops tend to live long lives – apparently the Lord is not all that keen for them to join Him.
- Perhaps he’s called Mike because he’s always on the radio.
- ‘Although he’s a Christian he’s an expert on Islam. It’s a faith to faith meeting.’
- He (The PM) will say that we were wrong to tell the Cabinet it was impossible to get the nurse released. But we were right – if they’d left it to the Foreign Office it would have been impossible.
- Soames has been waiting for a bishopric for years. Long time, no See?
- They are all matters about which the government is trying to avoid having a policy. Our policy is not to have a policy.
- As I explained to Bernard, eccentricity can be a virtue: you just call it individualism.
- We dare not allow politicians to establish the principle that Senior Civil Servants can be removed for incompetence. That would be the thin end of the wedge. We could lose dozens of our chaps. Hundreds, maybe. Even thousands!
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