I previously wrote about my love of language in general and the writing of the vintage UK TV series “Yes Minister” in particular. Yes Minister for the uninitiated was a sitcom based around the relationship of a UK government minister and his daily struggle with his civil servants.
Well a story in the UK Daily Telegraph over the weekend caught my eye. It details leaked civil service memos that were prepared to brief civil servants ahead of the arrival of the newly elected government:
The documents, instructing senior officials at the Department of Communities and Local Government how to woo their new bosses, give a checklist of what are called “hot button”, Tory-friendly words, to be dropped into conversation whenever possible. These include “families,” “radical,” “neighbourhoods” and “progressive.”
and the advice continues:
civil servants are told to “talk of efficiencies / value for money without prompting” and advised to deploy blatant flattery, with suggested phrases including: “Congratulations! I had so much confidence in you, I might get complacent!”
The documents order mandarins to “smile!… Lean forward!… Be interesting!” They are told to engage in “supportive listening,” and “take cues from the Secretary of State.” Officials are advised that “eye contact [is] the real currency.”
Yes, life is stranger than fiction.