Thatcher: Ah, good morning Jim, Sir Humphrey. Do come in and sit down. How’s
your wife? Is she well?
Hacker: [Puzzled] Oh yes, fine, Prime Minister. Fine. Thank you. Yes, fine.
So pleased. I’ve been meaning to have a word with you for some time. I’ve got
[Brightening visibly] An idea, Prime Minister? Oh good.
Humphrey: [Guardedly] An idea, Prime Minister?
Ideas, revelations or anything new
are some of the most dangerous concepts in public administration. And that’s
why the easy guide to the four stages in killing a report appeared early on in
the life of Yes Minister. So in case the learned commissioner
can’t get a copy of “The Greasy Poll” (Yes Minister: series two, episode four),
here’s that guide in full. He and Mr Agius can tick the excuses off as they’re proffered:
- The public interest:
- Hint at security considerations.
- Could put unwelcome pressure on the
Government because it might be misinterpreted.
- Better to wait for a wider and more
detailed appraisal over time.
- If there is no such appraisal being
carried out, better still, commission one.
- Discredit the evidence by leaking to the
press that the report:
- Leaves important questions unanswered.
- Contains data that is inconclusive.
- Contains figures that are open to other
- Contains findings that are contradictory
- Undermine the recommendations through an
assortment of government phrases:
- “Not really a basis for long term
- “Not sufficient information on which to
base a valid assessment”
- “No reason to undertake a fundamental
rethink of existing policy”
- “Broadly speaking, it endorses current
- If Stage 3 still leaves doubts, discredit
the author of the report (off the record)
harbours a grudge against the Government.
is a publicity seeker.
is trying to get his Knighthood.
used to be a consultant to a multinational company.
wants to be a consultant to a multinational company.