Friday, 10 September 2010

Yes First Minister

The Scottish soi disant Government has just published its legislative programme for 2010-11.

One of the statements below is a quote from "Yes Minister" and the other is an extract from a summary of one of the bills to be put before the Scottish Parliament. Can you tell which is which?:-

"a series of proposals which on examination proved to indicate certain promising lines of enquiry, which when pursuit led to the realization that the alternative courses of action might in fact, in certain circumstances, be susceptible of discreet modification, leading to a reappraisal of the original areas of difference and pointing a way to encouraging possibilities of compromise and cooperation which if bilaterally implemented with appropriate give and take on both sides might, if the climate were right, have a reasonable possibility at the end of the day of leading rightly or wrongly to a mutually satisfactory resolution they'll give it the most serious and earnest consideration and insist on a thorough and rigorous examination of all the proposals, allied with detailed feasibility study and budget analysis, before producing a consultative document for consideration by all interested bodies and seeking comments and recommendations to be included in a brief, for a series of working parties who will produce individual studies which will provide the background for a more wide ranging document, considering whether or not the proposal should be taken forward to the next stage"

"improve record keeping across the public sector, strengthening governance, transparency and accountability supports a key recommendation on records and record keeping of the historical abuse systemic review will provide a framework for improvements in record keeping across the public sector, encompassing existing guidance and best practice will provide a framework for improvements in record keeping across the public sector, most stakeholders are a positive step towards lasting improvements in the management of records by public authorities will be required to produce and implement a records management plan to be approved by the authorities engage private or voluntary organisations to deliver public services on their behalf to form a foundation on which to build improvements with guidance and good practice while minimising additional burdens on authorities will improve record keeping across the public sector, strengthening governance, transparency and accountability, and fulfilling a key recommendation ..."

For non-British readers, "Yes Minister" was a classic 80s BBC sitcom about the relationship between a government minister (in the last two series, the prime minister), Jim Hacker, and two of his civil servants, Sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Woolley, pictured above and played by, respectively, Paul Eddington (The Good Life), Nigel Hawthorne (The Madness of King George) and Derek Fowlds (The Basil Brush Show).

What's that jacket all about Mr Derek? 

Margaret Thatcher was a fan (of "Yes Minister", not Basil Brush although having said that I've no reason to believe she disliked BB, who could?) and even penned a brief sketch in which she appeared playing herself as the prime minister along with Eddington and Hawthorne in their YM roles. (Hawthorne, being an uber-lovey, I imagine was appalled by this stunt but refusing the Iron Lady in the 1980s was as unthinkable as refusing the Empress of Russia in the 1760s.) A recurring theme of YM was Sir Humphrey's pompous circumlocutions and in British English government gobbledegook is still referred to as a "Sir Humphrey-ism".

Anyway, the Scottish soi disant Government's proposed Public Records Bill could almost be a product of Jim Hacker's fictional Department of Administrative Affairs. As could such racy legislative offerings as the Local Electoral Administration Bill and the Health (Certification of Death) Bill - someone must have been having a laugh with that last one, combining the words "health" and "death" in the name of a bill.

Absent from the list is the much touted bill to authorise the holding of a referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. So the point of the SNP is what exactly ...?

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