"It is necessary to get behind someone in order to stab them in the back."
—Sir Humphrey Appleby
"The three articles of Civil Service faith: It takes longer to do things quickly, it's more expensive to do them cheaply, and it's more democratic to do them in secret."
—The Right Honourable James Hacker MP
Woolley: The problem is, the Prime Minister did try to suppress the [politically damaging] chapter [of the former Prime Minister's memoirs], didn't he?
Sir Humphrey: I don't know, did he?
Woolley: Well didn't he, don't you remember?
Sir Humphrey: What I remember is irrelevant. If the minutes don't say that he did, then he didn't.
Woolley: So you want me to falsify the minutes.
Sir Humphrey: I want nothing of the sort! It's up to you, Bernard. What do you want?
Woolley: I want to have a clear conscience.
Sir Humphrey: A clear conscience.
Woolley: Yes, Sir Humphrey.
Sir Humphrey: When did you acquire this taste for luxuries?
Sir Humphrey: Ladysmith House is top secret.
Hacker: How can a seven storey building in Walthamstow be top secret?
Sir Humphrey: Where there's a will, there's a way.
— "The Economy Drive"
Hacker: Fortunately, Bernard, most of our journalists are so incompetent they'd have the gravest difficulty in finding out that today is Wednesday.
Woolley: It's actually Thursday.
— "The Compassionate Society"
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I'd have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolitionist. I would've been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.
Sir Humphrey: The only way to understand the Press is to remember that they pander to their readers' prejudices.
Hacker: Don't tell me about the Press — I know exactly who reads the papers! The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; the Daily Telegraph is read by the people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Eh, Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?
Daniel Hughes: You known the PM's motto: In defeat, malice. In victory, revenge.
— "The Writing on the Wall"
"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless."
—Sir Humphrey Appleby
"When Americans decided to write a TV series about their political leaders, they produced The West Wing, a heartbreakingly sincere political drama about intelligent, passionate, dynamic people giving their all for the good of the country. When Brits decided to write a TV series about their political leaders they produced Yes, Prime Minister."
— Dan Hemmens, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"