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Learning politics

Long ago, I studied political science at the University of British Columbia1. The curriculum paid considerable attention to history and philosophy but was rather light on material describing how governments actually operate.

A British television series broadcast in the 1980s may explain public administration better than any political science journal or textbook.

This video clip from Yes Prime Minister could be about British Columbia’s approach to climate change, or it could be about the NDP’s response to COVID-19, or about flooding, or any emergency that confronts the province.


Another lesson in government by Sir Humphrey Appleby GCB KBE MVO:



1 In fact, “studied” is a rather generous term but I am not prepared to change it. The Profs are all gone by now.

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Categories: Smile

3 replies »

  1. Thanks for the reminder of a wonderful TV series that somehow explained everything. “The universities … both of them”. Priceless!

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  2. That series made me laugh. watched it while working for the federal government and some of it was so accurate.
    If it weren’t for “civil servants” countries might collapse. It is part of the problem with American government, too many political appointees in important “civil servvice” type jobs. Each time there is a new political party in office, 1/3 of the staff is replaced by new politcal appointees. Some states are worse than ever.

    Some of the situation in the comedy series were very relatable.

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  3. The fact that this 1980s series was based on a fairly accurate portrayal of government (here as well as there) that endures to this day, and yet provokes laughter instead of anger, might explain why we find ourselves without the leadership required to deal effectively with many looming threats.

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