Yes Minister on the EU and Brexit

 

I have long maintained that the greatest conservative propaganda ever made was created — ironically enough — by the BBC in the form of Yes Minister and its sequel series, Yes Prime Minister. TVTropes used to describe it as “three men in a room talking politics and the funniest show ever.” Those three men are James Hacker, the titular minister/prime minister trying to impose his policies; Sir Humphrey Appleby, the cynical senior Civil Service agent working to ensure that the Civil Service’s wishes are policy; and Bernard Woolley, the naïf Civil Service agent torn among the two and his own ideas of what democracy requires of him.

Yes, this show is thirty years old, but the political issues and intrigues rarely feel dated. Reading this morning’s headlines about Brexit, I was reminded of two of Sir Humphrey’s crash courses on reality. First (above), why do we have a European Union? Forget all the high-minded talk and consider how it’s really all about national interest.

Second, why was the United Kingdom in the EU to begin with? In pursuit of a disunited Europe, Britain’s foreign policy goal for the last 500 years:

Many shows claim to be timeless, but few truly are.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    • #1
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    The greatest show of all time – incidentally all the episodes are available in audiobook format for 1 credit on Audible.com

    Go to http://www.audible.com/ricochet to sign up today.

    There, don’t say I never do anything for the site.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Yep. Some things are timeless, since they go to the root of human (and bureaucrat) nature.

    • #3
  4. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Amy,

    Yes, the funniest and most insightful pair of series.  Perhaps we could ask one of the higher Ricochet powers to post one like a podcast regularly, so that we could all enjoy them and comment on the specific episode posted.  Thanks for your selections, so the UK had to get in the Common Market so they could make a real pig’s breakfast of it, perfect.

    • #4
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Love the show.  But I wouldn’t say it’s three people in a  room talking politics.  It’s three people in a room talking bureaucracy.

    I find “Yes Minister” much more watchable and funnier than “Yes Prime Minister”.  YPM seems much darker and more coldly cynical.

    • #5
  6. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    My Armenian coworker would like to add that once Turkey joins your club, it’s time to get out.

    • #6
  7. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Thanks for this reminder, Amy – great show!

    • #7
  8. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Not just timeless.  More importantly, funny.

    • #8
  9. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I need to watch this.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Thank you for these clips.

    Greatest television show that has ever aired, in my opinion.

    • #10
  11. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    DocJay:I need to watch this.

    Absolutely! If I’m not mistaken, I believe this program formed Ron Swanson’s political world view ….

    ronswanson

    • #11
  12. Johnnie Alum 13 Inactive
    Johnnie Alum 13
    @JohnnieAlum13

    My favorite scene from that show has always been the one where they talk about the readership of the newspapers. It ends with, “And who reads the Sun.” “The readers of the Sun only care about the page three girl!”

    • #12
  13. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Funny stuff. I will definitely have to pick up that audiobook!

    While I use Ricochet to talk politics/culture and Facebook to share with family, I use Twitter to interact with my fellow gamers. Predictably, nearly every associate there is lamenting the Brexit today. Many conservatives enjoy gaming, but it seems few participate on social media for some reason.

    Does Yes, Minister offer a bridge between Left and Right? Is it something hippies enjoy as well? Or is it “stained” by Thatcher’s glowing review?

    • #13
  14. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Those shows are pure genius. The actors were Labourites and intensely disliked Mrs. Thatcher even as she was a great fan. She wrote and performed a sketch for the show.

    • #14
  15. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    While all my liberal friends on Facebook are bemoaning the loss of some pie in the sky united European ideal today, I’ll be posting (i.e. trolling them) these clips periodically throughout the day with only the episode title and number as comment. Thank you for reminding me of this classic, and indeed timeless, show.

    • #15
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Johnnie Alum 13:My favorite scene from that show has always been the one where they talk about the readership of the newspapers. It ends with, “And who reads the Sun.” “The readers of the Sun only care about the page three girl!”

    the exact quote is “Sun Readers don’t care who run the country as long as she has big [COC]s”.

    • #16
  17. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Thank you Amy for reminding me. It truly is a super show – I watched all of them a few years back, quite possibly because you encouraged it then.

    Amazing how timely a 1980 broadcast can be in 2016.

    • #17
  18. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Here you go!

    • #18
  19. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Austin Murrey:The greatest show of all time – incidentally all the episodes are available in audiobook format for 1 credit on Audible.com

    Go to http://www.audible.com/ricochet to sign up today.

    There, don’t say I never do anything for the site.

    That may be the best news I’ve heard all year.

    • #19
  20. Andrzej Kozlowski Inactive
    Andrzej Kozlowski
    @AndrzejKozlowski

    For those who do not follow Jim Geraghty on Twitter, there were two Brexit “quotes” by Sir Humphrey and Prime Minister Hacker today. Sir Humphrey Appleby: “Those idiots can’t possibly be contemplating leaving!”

    Jim Hacker: “We must remain, so that we can reserve the option of later leaving.”

    • #20
  21. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    iWe: Here you go!

    TVTropes came up with an American version:

    President Bob: Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads and watches what. CNN is watched by people who think they run the country, The New York Times is read by people who think they ought to run the country, The Washington Post is read by the people who actually do run the country, USA Today is read by the wives of the people who run the country, CNBC is watched by people who think they own the country, The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who actually do own the country, MSNBC is watched by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, and Fox News is watched by people who think it already is.

    Smarmy Civil Servant Alice: Mr. President, what about people who read The National Enquirer?

    President’s Body Man Charlie: National Enquirer readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big boobs.

    • #21
  22. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Aaron Miller: Does Yes, Minister offer a bridge between Left and Right?

    Its writers and creators, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn are from opposite sides of British politics. Sir Antony was an adviser to Mrs. Thatcher and was given his knighthood in 1988.

    Given this the show does not have an ideological slant. The best explanation comes out of the mouth of James Hacker who explains the way of government thusly:

    The Opposition aren’t really the Opposition. They’re just called the Opposition. But in fact they are the Opposition in exile. The Civil Service are the Opposition in residence.

    Certainly this, too, is a reason why Brexit is so important. There are not really two sides to any argument in the EU, merely the bureaucratic superstate who does whatever it damned well pleases.

    • #22
  23. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Say what you like about Brexit but it will give great pleasure to many. Watching the Eurocrats and politicians squirm is priceless.

    • #23
  24. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    drlorentz:Say what you like about Brexit but it will give great pleasure to many. Watching the Eurocrats and politicians squirm is priceless.

    From Washington-based chief political and investment strategist, Greg Valliere, writing in Barrons:

    Let’s not kid ourselves, the Brexit vote was about immigration and the Islamization of Europe. Politicians are capitalizing on people’s fears, and those fears seem legitimate.

    • #24
  25. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Columbo:

    drlorentz:Say what you like about Brexit but it will give great pleasure to many. Watching the Eurocrats and politicians squirm is priceless.

    From Washington-based chief political and investment strategist, Greg Valliere, writing in Barrons:

    Let’s not kid ourselves, the Brexit vote was about immigration and the Islamization of Europe. Politicians are capitalizing on people’s fears, and those fears seem legitimate.

    Surely that was an important aspect but you can’t deny that politicians on both sides of the Channel are uncomfortable with this. That’s why most opposed it! And the Eurocrats in Brussels must be quaking in their Armani shoes. Other European countries might choose to leave. Horrors!

    • #25
  26. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Columbo:

    drlorentz:Say what you like about Brexit but it will give great pleasure to many. Watching the Eurocrats and politicians squirm is priceless.

    From Washington-based chief political and investment strategist, Greg Valliere, writing in Barrons:

    Let’s not kid ourselves, the Brexit vote was about immigration and the Islamization of Europe. Politicians are capitalizing on people’s fears, and those fears seem legitimate.

    No it was not. Yes that is what most likely drove enough people to vote to leave so the leaves won,  but that quote is saying that is the primary deciding factor why everyone voted to leave. I would argue a majority voted to leave because they just have this feeling of losing control .  They might not fully understand the EU is an aspiring communist dictatorship slowing destroying all vestiges of national sovereignty thur political maneuvering and consolidation of power almost 100% in the hands  of unelected bureaucrats. Therefore slowly destroying representative government in Europe. However they can feel the effects of it in their every day lives.

    • #26
  27. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Brian Clendinen: No it was not. Yes that is what most likely drove enough people to vote to leave so the leaves won, but that quote is saying that is the primary deciding factor why everyone voted to leave. I would argue a majority voted to leave because they just have this feeling of losing control . They might not fully understand the EU is an aspiring communist dictatorship slowing destroying all vestiges of national sovereignty thur political maneuvering and consolidation of power almost 100% in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. Therefore slowly destroying representative government in Europe. However they can feel the effects of it in their every day lives.

    European history is one long, nearly unbroken record of French and Germans trying to take over the continent: Charlemagne, the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, The Nazis, etc. The EU is the result of the French and Germans realizing they could take over through negotiations rather than force, and somehow it worked. The British realized what was going on and said, “No more.”

    • #27
  28. Stephen Bishop Inactive
    Stephen Bishop
    @StephenBishop

    There’s a rumor going around which I am spreading that now the Brits have voted for Brexit Obama is going to find a way to sneak the US into the EU.

    • #28
  29. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Stephen Bishop:There’s a rumor going around which I am spreading that now the Brits have voted for Brexit Obama is going to find a way to sneak the US into the EU.

    An alternative plan would be to trade him to London (who now wishes to exit Greater Britain for the EU), for a player to be named later.

    • #29
  30. Daniel Turner Inactive
    Daniel Turner
    @DanielTurner

    drlorentz:Those shows are pure genius. The actors were Labourites and intensely disliked Mrs. Thatcher even as she was a great fan. She wrote and performed a sketch for the show.

    One of the writers, Anthony Jay, actually noted that he based his ideas on the public choice theory developed by George Mason University Professor James Buchanan.

    He said, “The fallacy that public choice economics took on was the fallacy that government is working entirely for the benefit of the citizen; and this was reflected by showing that in any [episode] in the programme, in Yes Minister, we showed that almost everything that the government has to decide is a conflict between two lots of private interest – that of the politicians and that of the civil servants trying to advance their own careers and improve their own lives. And that’s why public choice economics, which explains why all this was going on, was at the root of almost every episode of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.”

    • #30

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