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Jonathan Lynn
1943 -

British film director, writer and actor, co-author (with Antony Jay) of the enduring Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister series for the British Broadcasting Corporation and of bestselling books based on the series, star of Doctor in the House, director of American films including My Cousin Vinny


[Bureaucratese] "I think we have to be very careful." Translation: We are not going to do this. "Have you thought through all the implications?" Translation: You are not going to do this.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[A Cabinet Minister] should always get civil servants to commit themselves first. Never say, "I think...", but always say, "What do you think...?"

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
... paradoxically, government is more open when it is less open. Open Government is rather like live theatre: the audience gets a performance. And it gives a response. But, like the theatre, in order to have something show openly there must first be much hidden activity. And all sorts of things have to be cut or altered in rehearsals, and not shown to the public until you have got them right.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
... 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.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[When bureaucrats evade questions by ministers and political staff, one of three reasons usually explains their silence] The silence when they do not want to tell you the facts: Discrete Silence. The silence when they do not intend to take any action: Stubborn Silence. The silence when... they imply that they could vindicate themselves completely if only they were free to tell all [about actions of the previous government], but they are too honourable to do so: Courageous Silence.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
Politicians like to panic. They need activity - it is their substitute for achievement.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
... the law of Inverse Relevance: the less you intend to do about something, the more you have to keep talking about it.

1984 - a bureaucrat's observation from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)
[Parliamentary] Opposition's about asking awkward questions... and government is about not answering them.

1984 - from Yes Minister (with Antony Jay)