The UK Civil Service - Humour

This Section contains various tongue-in-cheek advice about working in the UK Civil Service. But don't forget that many a true word is said in jest ...

First, I have brought together some excellent advice from Wilfred Hyde and Giles Wilkes In Policy-Making 101.

Next, let's learn how to interpret the civil servants' language:


It is of course no accident that Whitehall officials are known as Mandarins. Their language is often as hard to understand as anything spoken in Beijing.   These first 9 lessons, mainly written by David Fuhr and Martin Jones, with a contributions from Jo Rixom, will provide you with the basic language that you need to get by and survive in Whitehall.

Lessons 1 & 2: Basic Vocabulary: What your Bosses Really Mean - and ...

the Whitehall Clock and Calendar

Lesson 3: Basic Vocabulary: Policy Development

Lessons 4 & 5: Communicating with Ministers' Offices - and ...

Management Speak

Lessons 6 & 7: How to Write Government Documents - The Title & The Foreword

Lesson 8: How to Write Government Documents - The Text

Lesson 9: Understanding Drafting Meetings


Lesson 10 is a Masterclass by Lord Butler.

Lesson 11 provides sage advice from Sir Humphrey Appleby on how to survive Ministers' attempts at Civil Service Reform.

And Finally

The correct collective noun for civil servants is a Meeting.


Martin Stanley

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