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"Yes, Prime Minister" A Victory for Democracy (TV Episode 1986) Poster

Quotes

James Hacker: Are you telling me the Foreign Office is keeping something from me?

Bernard Woolley: Yes.

James Hacker: Well, what?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know; they're keeping it from me too.

James Hacker: How do you know?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know.

James Hacker: You just said that the Foreign Office sas keeping something from me. How do you know if you don't know?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know specifically what, Prime Minister, but I do know the Foreign Office always keep everything from everybody. It's normal practice.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: I gather that there's an airborne battalion in the air.

James Hacker: Sounds like the right place for it.

Israeli Ambassador: Well, Jim, what are you going to do about St George's?

James Hacker: You know about that?

Israeli Ambassador: Obviously.

James Hacker: Not a serious problem, is it?

Israeli Ambassador: Isn't it? Your information must be better than mine.

James Hacker: Don't be silly. Mine comes from the Foreign Office.

Israeli Ambassador: Israeli Intelligence says that East Yemen are going to invade St George's Island in the next few days.

James Hacker: What? So that's the connection.

Israeli Ambassador: Your Foreign Office have agreed with East Yemen that they'll make strong diplomatic representations, but do nothing. In return, the Yemenis will let you keep your airport contract after they've taken over.

James Hacker: There will be uproar!

Israeli Ambassador: That's only the start. I happen to know from our ambassador in Washington that the Americans are going to support the present government of St George's.

James Hacker: In the U.N.?

Israeli Ambassador: No, in battle. On St George's Island. They'll send in an airborne division backed up by the Seventh Fleet.

James Hacker: The Americans? Invading a Commonwealth country? The Palace will hit the roof. And I'll look ridiculous. Why didn't the Americans tell me?

Israeli Ambassador: They don't trust you.

James Hacker: Why not?

Israeli Ambassador: Because you trust the Foreign Office.

James Hacker: Oh, I see. What can I do about it?

Israeli Ambassador: Jim, you have an airborne battalion on standby in Germany that is not now needed for the NATO exercise.

James Hacker: How do you know?

Israeli Ambassador: I know. Now, if you were to send it to St George's Island, it would frighten off East Yemen. They'd never dare invade. Of course, it's not for the Israeli ambassador to advise the British Prime Minister.

James Hacker: And he wouldn't take your advice anyway.

[picks up phone]

James Hacker: Get me the Foreign Secretary and then the Defence Secretary, please.

[hangs up]

James Hacker: A wonder the Foreign Office didn't cover themselves. Maybe they did. They gave me several boxes tonight. I've been through them all except this one. I wonder if this could be it, "Northern Indian Ocean Situation Report". 138 pages, it must be it.

[phone rings]

James Hacker: Hello? Yes, Ronnie. I want the president of St George's Island to extend an invitation to Britain to send an airborne battalion on a goodwill visit. No, just a friendly gesture. Goodwill. Yes, at once, please. Thank you.

[hangs up]

James Hacker: He seemed to think that 800 fully armed paratroopers was an awful lot to send on a goodwill visit.

Israeli Ambassador: No, it's just an awful lot of goodwill.

James Hacker: [phone rings] Oh, yes, Paul. You know you have an airborne battalion on standby in Germany? Never mind how I know. Well, since it's not being used, I want them to fly straight off to St George's Island. Sort of between Africa and India. A goodwill visit. Just showing the flag. They have been invited. Yes. Leave in... six hours. Yes, an instant goodwill visit. Tell your press office to announce it at once. No, no, leave me out of it. A routine visit. All right - a routine surprise visit. Well, say they were invited earlier, but the NATO exercise got in the way. Now they're not needed, they're going anyway. All right. Nobody knows it's not true. Press statements aren't delivered under oath.

[hangs up]

James Hacker: They'll be off at midnight.

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James Hacker: Humphrey, I'm worried.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, what about, Prime Minister?

James Hacker: About the Americans.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes, well, we're all worried about the Americans.

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James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business, aren't they?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, indeed, Prime Minister. That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.

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James Hacker: Apparently the White House thinks that the Foreign Office is full of pinkos and traitors.

Bernard Woolley: No, it's not. Well, not full.

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Sir Humphrey Appleby: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?

Sir Richard Wharton: Its full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.

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Sir Richard Wharton: But there's a group of Marxist guerrillas in the mountains somewhere. And we're getting reports that they're planning a coup.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh well, these things will happen.

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Sir Richard Wharton: If the PM gets into one of his ghastly patriotic Churchillian moods, he may intervene. All that pro-British, defending democracy nonsense.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh, I know, I know.

Sir Richard Wharton: He must understand that once you start interfering in the internal squabbles of other countries, you're on a very slippery slope. Even the Foreign Secretary's grasped that.

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James Hacker: I was on the receiving end of some frightful pressure from the American ambassador at that drinkies do last night.

Bernard Woolley: Ah.

James Hacker: Apparently they'd heard about my plan to cancel Trident.

James Hacker: Ah.

James Hacker: It seems that the American defence industries are among the biggest contributors to the President's party funds.

Bernard Woolley: Ah.

James Hacker: Then he said we had a big problem in East Yemen.

Bernard Woolley: Ah?

James Hacker: Stop saying "ah" like that, Bernard. I'm not your doctor.

Bernard Woolley: I'm sorry, Prime Minister.

James Hacker: What is this big problem in East Yemen?

Bernard Woolley: Ah...

James Hacker: Thank you, Bernard.

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Luke: Educated man. For an American.

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James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.

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Bernard Woolley: The PM seems to be completely in the dark.

Sir Richard Wharton: Good.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Excellent. Anything else?

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Bernard Woolley: Well, I wondered if there was anything he doesn't know?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, I hardly know where to begin, Bernard.

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Bernard Woolley: What if he demands options?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, it's obvious, Bernard. The Foreign Office will happily present him with three options, two of which are, on close inspection, exactly the same.

Sir Richard Wharton: Plus a third which is totally unacceptable.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Like bombing Warsaw or invading France.

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Bernard Woolley: What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Then we follow the four-stage strategy.

Bernard Woolley: What's that?

Sir Richard Wharton: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.

Sir Richard Wharton: In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.

Sir Richard Wharton: In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we *can* do.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

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James Hacker: Luke! Can you hear me? Watch my lips! I want to talk to the Israeli ambassador!

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James Hacker: He seemed worried that it might be subject to a Communist takeover.

Luke: Americans always are.

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Israeli Ambassador: It's well known that in the British Foreign Office an instruction from the Prime Minister becomes a request from the Foreign Secretary, then a recommendation from the Minister of State and, finally, just a suggestion to the ambassador. If it ever gets that far.

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Jim Hacker: Who knows Foreign Office secrets, apart from the Foreign Office?

Bernard Woolley: That's easy. Only the Kremlin.

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Sir Humphrey Appleby: You know what happens when politicians get into Number 10; they want to take their place on the world stage.

Sir Richard Wharton: People on stages are called actors. All they are required to do is look plausible, stay sober, and say the lines they're given in the right order.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Some of them try to make up their own lines.

Sir Richard Wharton: They don't last long.

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Sir Humphrey Appleby: Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century - politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon.

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