Here at Troppo we have referred to the ‘Yes Minister series’ many times because of its brilliant commentary on the timeless issues of government, exemplified in the skit above. I have gone through three phases with the series: when it first aired in the 1980s, I was a teenager and thought it was a brilliant and humorous satire, depicting a grossly exaggerated view of how naive politicians were and how powerful the bureaucrats. I was laughing because I thought things were not that bad.
In my early 30s and after a few years in Canberra, I reached a different view. I thought the series depicted a world that was roughly true, with more or less amateur politicians controlled by civil servants who were a bit up themselves and elitist but at least had a joint mission and kept the lobbyists at bay.
In the last 5 years I have reached yet another take on the series: if only things were this good! If only we had such a united group at the heart of the state system that was looking out for a shared notion of the public good! I now look at sir Humphrey and think of how we can create more of him and put them in charge, rather than how to stop them. In my estimation, he has gone from evil villain to utopian hero!