“There has to be someone to carry on government, even if everything else stops”, Sir Humphrey Appleby told Jim Hacker in Yes Minister. It seems latter day Permanent Secretaries have wasted no time during the election and its aftermath in preparing an emollient Whitehall for possible new inhabitants.

An internal government memo sent to civil servants and seen by Scrapbook makes for a most amusing read. Entitled “Advice on referring to the previous government”, a more appropriate heading might be “Previous government? What previous government?”:

Now that there is a new Government it is very important that in all of our communications we take great care when referring to decisions, actions and policies of the previous Government …

OLD: “Ministers are committed to ensuring that the NHS will continue to treat everyone who needs urgent care”
NEW: “The NHS treats everyone who needs urgent care”

OLD: “We have invested a total of £500,000 in training”
NEW: “A total of £500,000 has been invested in training”

OLD: “We are proud of our record on reducing poverty”
NEW: Delete

OLD: Mental health, one of the Government’s top priorities…
NEW: The important area of mental health…

The funniest of these is surely the reference to policy reduction – DELETE!

Who says Whitehall folk don’t have a sense of humour?

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