Editors’ Note

‘We believe that these diaries accurately reflect the mind of one of our outstanding national leaders; if the reflection seems clouded it may not be the fault of the mirror. Hacker himself processed events in a variety of ways, and the readers will have to make their own judgement as to whether any given statement represents

(a) what happened
(b) what he believed happened
(c) what he would like to have happened
(d) what he wanted others to believe happened
(e) what he wanted others to believe that he believed happened.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1981. The Complete Yes Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1991) p. 9

Five Standard Excuses

‘He suggested that we choose one the civil service’s five standard excuses. Humphrey must be quite anxious about the situation if he’s prepared to reveal his techniques to me so openly.
I made notes. I have called each excuse by the by the name of a famous example of its use.

1. The Anthony Blunt excuse
There is a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything, but security prevents its disclosure

2. The Comprehensive School excuse
It’s only gone wrong because of heavy cuts in staff and budget which have stretched supervisory resources beyond the limit

3. The Concord excuse
It was a worthwhile experiment now abandoned, but not before it provided much valuable data and considerable employment

4. The Munich Argreement excuse
It occurred before important facts were known, and cannot happen again.
(The important facts in question were that Hitler wanted to conquer Europe. This was actually known; but not to the Foreign Office, of course)

5. The Charge of the Light Brigade excuse
It was an unfortunate lapse by an individual which has now been dealt with under internal disciplinary procedures

According to Sir Humphrey, these excuses have covered everything so far. Even wars. Small wars, anyway.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1981. The Complete Yes Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1991) p. 338

si tacuisses philosophus mansisses

‘If you had kept your mouth shut we might have thought you were clever.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1986. The Complete Yes Prime Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1989) p. 468