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Hacker Ministry

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The Hacker Ministry is the fictional British governing administration of the Right Honourable James "Jim" Hacker, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as portrayed in the British sitcom, Yes, Prime Minister.

Tenure of government[edit]

There is no reason to believe that the broadcast dates of the series (1980–1988) are meant to square with the actual dates Hacker took office as Minister or Prime Minister. There is, in fact, ample evidence to assume that while the two series were broadcast over a period of nine years, that the events the series chronicled took place over a considerably shorter period of time; episodes that were broadcast years apart were explicitly identified in dialogue as taking place within days of each other.[1]

Later, when Lynn and Jay wrote the novelizations of the two series (which are written in diary form, with each entry dated), the Yes Minister volumes take place over the course of two years, and the Yes, Prime Minister volume takes place over the course of one year. Specifically which years, however, are not explicitly identified in the text.

Nevertheless, it is possible to figure out Hacker's tenure of office as Minister Administrative Affairs, and the beginning of his term as PM, through a handful of internal clues. The story "The Skeleton In The Cupboard" (the final story in Yes, Minister) takes place in the early 1980s, as it revolves around the uncovering of a scandal that took place "thirty years ago" in "the early fifties". "Party Games", the opening story in Yes, Prime Minister, follows on directly after this story, and in it Hacker makes a speech that he believes will secure his nomination as PM on Friday, 13 January. The only time 13 January fell on Friday in the early 1980s was in 1984. Further dates in the book (Thursday, 19 July, etc.) also fall in with the 1984 dating.

In the books, then, Hacker's terms of office can be partially worked out as follows:

  • Member of Parliament for Birmingham East: From circa 1961 [2] through sometime after 1984
  • Shadow Minister of Agriculture: c. 1974/75 – 21 October 1981 [3]
  • Minister of Administrative Affairs: 24 October 1981 – 17 January 1984
  • Prime Minister: 18 January 1984 – 28 January 1988

The final diary entry in Yes, Prime Minister is for 14 November of the year Hacker took office. An epilogue to the American edition of Yes, Prime Minister mentions that Hacker continued as prime minister after this initial year, and details some of his later political triumphs and failures. This epilogue mentions the "later years" of Hacker's tenure as PM, implying that Hacker served as PM for a considerable period of time.

In the TV series, the Prime Minister Hacker succeeded (and served under, as Minister of Administrative Affairs) is unnamed and unseen. In the book Yes, Prime Minister, Hacker's predecessor is identified as Herbert Attwell.

In the novelisation, Sir Humphrey's personal papers were released under the thirty-year rule in 2019. These papers began from the start of Hacker's career at the Department of Administrative Affairs, and must have been completed by 1989, thirty years prior to their release. The conclusion must be that all of "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" took place prior to 1989, which corresponds to the dating above.

The government[edit]

Hacker's party holds a majority in the House of Commons. Listed below are the members of Hacker's Cabinet, as much as is disclosed during the airing of the series.

Information is also reaped from the novelisation. Information contained in the novelisation does not always correspond precisely with the happenings in the television show, perhaps for the sake of continuity (e.g. although there is a new Foreign Secretary in Yes, Prime Minister, the book notes that the Foreign Secretary from the Yes Minister episode "Party Games" still holds the post).

Consequently, this list is by no means complete or comprehensive, as the names of those holding many portfolios in Hacker's government were never revealed or discussed.

It is also not stated which government Hacker works for, and as a result who is in Opposition. However, in the opening scene of the Pilot episode (Hacker's constituency election victory) he is seen wearing a white rosette between the Labour and Conservative candidates.

Her Majesty's Government[edit]

Note: persons asterisked (*) indicates they were named only in the novelisation

Cabinet of the United Kingdom[edit]

  • Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury: Rt. Hon. James George Hacker
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury: Rt. Hon. Eric Jeffries
  • Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Rt. Hon. Ronald (Ronnie) (surname unknown, as seen in "A Victory for Democracy"; Duncan Short is stated to have held the position throughout in the novelization)
  • Secretary of State for Defence: Rt. Hon. Sir Maxwell Hopkins*
  • Parliamentary Private Secretary for Defence: Hugh Halifax
  • Secretary of State for Education and Science: Rt. Hon. Henry Snodgrass
  • Secretary of State for the Environment: Rt. Hon. Brian Smithson*
  • Secretary of State for Transport: Rt. Hon. Neil Hitchcock*
  • Secretary of State for Trade and Industry: Rt. Hon. Geoffrey Pickles*
  • Chief Whip: Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Pearson
  • Party Chair: Neil (surname unknown)*

Junior Ministers[edit]

  • Solicitor General: Sir Robin Evans*
  • Minister of State for Health: Leslie Potts
  • Minister for the Arts: Nick Everitt*

Former Ministers[edit]

  • Duncan Short, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; the novelisation notes Duncan holds this post throughout the series
  • Paul Sidgwick*, former Secretary of State for Defence
  • Hugh (surname unknown)*, former Secretary of State for Defence
  • Tom (surname unknown)*, former Secretary of State for Employment
  • Dudley Belling, former Secretary of State for Employment
  • Leslie Potts, former Minister for Sport (prior to his promotion to Minister of State for Health)
  • Dr. Peter Thorn, former Minister of State for Health

Her Majesty's Civil Service[edit]

Departmental Permanent Secretaries[edit]

  • Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service: Sir Humphrey Appleby
  • Permanent Secretary of the Treasury: Sir Frank Gordon
  • Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Sir Richard Wharton
  • Permanent Secretary at the Home Office: Sir Ernest Roach*
  • Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence: Sir Alan Guthrie*
  • Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Security: Sir Noel Whittington*
  • Permanent Secretary of the Department for Education and Science: Sir Giles Bretherton*
  • Permanent Secretary of the Department of Employment: Sir David Smith*

Former Permanent Secretaries[edit]

  • Sir Norman Block*, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence
  • Sir Norman Coppitt*, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence

Downing Street Advisors and Staff[edit]

  • Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister: Bernard Woolley
  • Chief Political Advisor to the Prime Minister: Dorothy Wainwright
  • Chief Scientific Advisor: Professor Isaac Rosenblum*
  • Press Secretaries: Malcolm Warren and Bill Pritchard
  • Foreign Affairs Private Secretary: Peter Gascoigne
  • Home Affairs Private Secretary: Graham French
  • Appointments Secretary: Peter Harding*

Senior Officials[edit]

  • Leader of the Opposition: George Hedley*
  • Director General of MI5: Sir Geoffrey Hastings
  • Chief of the Defence Staff: (initially in the book General) Field Marshal Sir Geoffrey Howard
  • Governor of the Bank of England: Sir Desmond Glazebrook

References[edit]

  • Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn
  • The Complete Yes Prime Minister by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn

Notes[edit]

  1. In the TV series, Hacker was shown becoming Prime Minister in the episode "Party Games," a 1984 Christmas special set over Christmas and New Year at an unknown date. When Yes, Prime Minister began in 1986, he had been Prime Minister "for three days"; in a later episode his wife remarks "you were a back-bench MP only five years ago." Assuming Mrs Hacker is being exact rather than semi-rhetorical, this is difficult to square with his becoming a minister in an episode broadcast in 1980 (but filmed before the 1979 general election), after some months if not years on the Opposition front bench. However, if the compressed time frame of the novelizations is also meant to apply to the series, the comment makes perfect sense.
  2. In the story "The Economy Drive", set in December 1981 shortly after Hacker became a minister, his wife Annie twice refers to Jim having been a backbencher for twenty years.
  3. In the story "Open Government", set in October 1981, Hacker refers to having been the Shadow Minister for Agriculture for the last seven years.


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