Yes, Prime Minister (1986) s01e01 Episode Script

Grand Design

Tell me, General.
Where's the hotline? - Which one? - The one to Russia.
The red hotline, sir.
It's in Downing Street.
- I can get through to the Soviet president? - Theoretically, yes.
- Theoretically? - That's what we tell journalists.
We did once get through to the Kremlin, but only to a switchboard operator.
- Couldn't the operator put you through? - Never found out.
Didn't speak much English.
- How often is it tested? - Not too often.
It creates unnecessary panic at the other end, and panic is a good thing to avoid where nuclear weapons are concerned.
- Yes.
- Now, this is it.
Ah, good.
- What is it? - The trigger, Prime Minister.
- The trigger? - The nuclear trigger, the button.
- This? - Indirectly, yes.
This is the telex communication with HMS Northwood.
You send a coded signal and Northwood's telex operator sends an authentication signal.
So he knows it's from you.
When the instruction's been authenticated, Northwood sends a command to a Polaris submarine and they press the button.
- Just like that? - Just like that.
- When I say so? - When you say so.
Wouldn't anybody argue with me? Serving officers obey orders without question.
What if I were to get drunk? On the whole, it would be safer if you didn't.
Blimey! It's your job and you wanted it, Prime Minister.
- Supposing I were to go off my rocker? - The Cabinet might notice.
I wouldn't count on it.
Seriously, supposing I did and then changed my mind? That's all right.
No one would ever know, would they? - How many bombs are there? - Four Polaris submarines, 16 missiles on each.
- But how many actual bombs? - 192.
Each one at least five times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.
You're thinking, "Not very many.
" I don't know.
That seems enough.
Not with 1200 Soviet missiles trained on Britain, waiting to retaliate.
- 1200? - Hmm.
Britain's always fought against the odds - the Armada, Battle of Britain.
Yes, and we'll have a great deal more firepower when we get Trident.
- Is that all? - Hmm.
So in an emergency, I would have to make an instant decision? - No, you'd probably have 12 hours.
- 12 hours? Shouldn't we do something about this? Yes, but for 20 years, politicians have said they can't afford the conventional forces.
Conventional forces are very expensive, Prime Minister.
Much cheaper just to press a button.
So how long should we allow for this meeting? - 72 hours - Fine.
It's only the New Zealand High Commissioner.
Isn't 72 hours a bit generous? I was just thinking how long we could hold the Russians.
If we persuaded the Americans to strengthen THEIR conventional forces I don't think it'll make much difference.
The American troops in Germany are all so drug-ridden, they don't know which side they're on anyway.
And during the last NATO exercises, the U.
S.
troops dispersed and picnicked in the woods with lady soldiers.
- What about the other NATO armies? - They're all right.
On weekdays, anyway.
Weekdays? The Dutch, Danish and Belgian armies go home for the weekend.
So if the Russians are to invade, we'd prefer them to do it between Mondays and Fridays? - Is this widely known? - If I know it, I'm sure the Russians do.
The Kremlin usually gets NATO information before it filters through to Number 10.
- So it comes back to Trident? - When it comes.
- If it works.
- If it wor - What do you mean? - Normally, when new weapons are delivered, the warheads don't fit the ends of the rockets.
That's what happened to Polaris.
You know the sort of thing, wiring faults, microchip failure.
We couldn't fire Polaris for some years.
Cruise is probably the same.
Trident might be too.
We should take the manufacturers to court.
We can't risk the publicity - security and they know it! - We should change the manufacturers.
- We do all the time.
The manufacturers know that too.
That's why that torpedo landed on Sandwich golf course.
Sandwich golf course? I didn't read that in the papers.
Of course not.
There was a cover-up.
The members just found a new bunker on the 7th fairway the next morning.
- So the torpedoes don't work either? - No, only the new ones.
The others are fine.
The ones designed during the Second World War.
- Over 40 years ago? - They had lots of testing.
- You can't afford that with the modern ones.
- Why not? Well, if there's a nuclear war, it won't last long enough for the weapons to be tested.
Are there other things I don't know about the UK's defence? I don't know, Prime Minister.
I don't know what you don't know.
The government's chief scientific adviser sees the problem differently from the MoD.
- I'd like to see him now.
- A late drink might be wiser.
Better not to let the Cabinet Office know.
Sir Humphrey gets upset.
He doesn't regard him as one of us.
I thought he won the DSO at Arnhem.
That doesn't make up for speaking with an Austrian accent.
He didn't go to Oxford or Cambridge.
He didn't even go to the LSE.
Prime Minister, you believe in the nuclear deterrent? - Oh, yes.
- Why? - Pardon? - Why? Because it deters.
- Whom? - Pardon? - Whom? Whom does it deter? - The Russians from attacking us.
- Why? - Pardon? Why? They know if they launched an attack, I'd press the button.
- You would? - Well, wouldn't I? Well, would you? At the last resort, yes, I certainly would.
Well, I think I certainly would.
Yes.
- And what is the last resort? - If the Russians invaded western Europe.
You only have 12 hours to decide, so you're saying the last resort is the first response? Am I? You don't need to worry.
Why should the Russians annex the whole of Europe? They can't even control Afghanistan.
No, if they try anything, it will be salami tactics.
- Salami tactics? - Slice by slice.
One small piece at a time.
So will you press the button if they invade West Berlin? - It all depends.
- On what? Scenario one.
Riots in West Berlin, buildings in flames.
East German fire brigade crosses the border to help.
Would you press the button? The East German police come with them.
The button? Then some troops, more troops just for riot control, they say.
And then the East German troops are replaced by Russian troops.
Button? Then the Russian troops don't go.
They are invited to stay to support civilian administration.
The civilian administration closes roads and Tempelhof Airport.
- Now you press the button? - I need time to think about it.
- You have 12 hours.
- Have I? - You're inventing this.
- You are Prime Minister today.
The phone might ring now from NATO HQ.
Hello? Yes.
NATO HQ, Prime Minister.
Can you address their annual conference in April? I thought I could.
I'm not so sure now.
Yes.
Scenario two.
The Russian army accidentally on purpose cross the West German frontier.
- Is that the last resort? - No.
Right, scenario three.
Suppose the Russians have invaded West Germany, Belgium, Holland, France? Suppose their tanks and troops have reached the English Channel and are poised to invade? - Is that the last resort? - No.
Why not? We'd only fight a nuclear war to defend ourselves.
That would be committing suicide! So what is the last resort? Piccadilly? Watford Gap service station? The Reform Club? - Maybe the nuclear deterrent makes no sense.
- Yes, it does.
If the Russians or Americans have the bomb, so must the other side.
- And keep Polaris just in case.
- What are you proposing? Cancel Trident.
Spend the £15 billion you save on conventional forces.
- You wouldn't really press the button.
- I might if I had no choice.
They'll never put you in a situation where you have no choice.
They'll stick to salami tactics.
Supposing we cancel Trident and channel £15 billion into conventional forces? - What do we spend it on? Tanks? - No, we spend it on E.
T.
Extra-terrestrials? Emergent technology.
- What's that? - Smart missiles, target finding, infrared.
- Who would operate this E.
T? - A large conventional army.
A large convention I've got an idea.
Wait a minute! I think I can see how to do this.
First, we cancel Trident.
- Yes.
- We don't buy Cruise either.
- Yes.
- Then we introduce conscription.
Yes.
Not only do we solve our defence problems, we solve our unemployment problems as well.
Isn't conscription a courageous policy? Courageous? Oh, my God, is it? No, no.
In times of full employment, it would be.
But now we'd just give unemployed young people something to do.
We'd teach them trades and skills.
We might even teach them to read.
The army never discharged anyone who was illiterate.
We could make them wash.
We'd give them a comprehensive education to make up for their comprehensive education.
Call it "national service".
Send the young people out into the community services.
With one policy, we solve our defence, educational and unemployment problems.
This is wonderful.
I see it all now.
"A new deal for Britain - Hacker's Grand Design.
" From time to time in our great island story, it falls to one man to lead his people out of the valley of the shadow and into the sunlit uplands of peace and prosperity.
- Why didn't I think of this before? - Because we only just met.
Hello, darling! - What's for lunch? - You tell me.
- Are you going somewhere? - Voluntary services committee.
I did tell you.
Oh, yes, of course.
I just thought a few scrambled eggs or something.
I think there's some eggs in the fridge.
- You want me to do it? - We agreed that I'd carry on with my work.
- Yes, of course.
- Foreign Office telegrams, Prime Minister.
- Put them over there.
- It's bad enough living in this goldfish bowl.
Every time I want to go out, I have to walk past a dozen journalists and 50 gawping tourists! - There's no privacy anywhere.
- That's not true.
Sorry, Prime Minister.
Security check.
Can I just look around? - Yes, carry on.
- Privacy? - You can always walk in the garden.
- With about 60 people staring at you! It's like exercising in a prison yard.
And we pay rent for this place.
They should pay US! At least it's quiet.
- Usually.
- That's been going on since half past seven! - They've got to practise somewhere.
- Why here? - That's the Horse Guards' Parade.
- All clear, Prime Minister.
Annie, you must realise that a career in public service involves some sacrifice.
Fine, you sacrifice your lunch.
I'm late.
- I'm hungry! - Aw! - What did you have for YOUR lunch? - Half a Yorkie bar.
Where's the other half? Ah, Bernard! - Yes, Prime Minister.
- Had a good lunch? - Oh, quite good.
- Where did you have it? - In the Cabinet mess.
- Three courses? Er, yes.
- Wine? - A glass of claret, yes.
Would you like to know what I had for my lunch? - Do you want to tell me, Prime Minister? - Nothing! Are you dieting? It seems there are facilities for feeding you and all the private secretaries, the Cabinet Office, the Press Office, the messengers, but not for me - and I live here! - Can't Mrs Hacker cook for you? - She's out at work.
- We'll get you a cook.
- Who'll pay for it? - You will.
- How much? - 8,000 to 10,000 a year.
- I can't afford that! - Talk to the Cabinet Secretary.
- Bring him here now.
He's due here any minute.
Shall we press on with the affairs of the nation? Stuff the affairs of the nation.
I want a cook! I'll look into it.
Malcolm Warren from the Press Office would like a word.
OK, bring him in.
- Good afternoon, Prime Minister.
- Good afternoon, Malcolm.
Could we keep this brief? Yes, two things.
First, we'll discuss your first appearance on TV as Prime Minister.
Perhaps we ought to leave it until we've time to do it thoroughly.
What's the other thing? - Your official visit to Washington.
- What about it? - A lot of press want to come.
- Let them.
- It'll be very expensive.
- Malcolm! I shall be standing on the White House lawn side by side with the President of the USA.
National anthems, two world leaders together.
We will tell the world about our happy relationship, our unity, resolve, a few words perhaps about my own courage, wisdom, statesmanship.
Can't you realise how important this is to me? Well, not to me, to Britain.
Our place in the world, my place in the history books.
- Yes, Prime Minister.
- Come in, Humphrey.
Thank you, Malcolm.
- Malcolm - Humphrey! - I've been thinking - Good.
I've been Prime Minister for, let me see, three days now.
And a very good PM you are, too! I'm not fishing for compliments, though it has been going well.
Oh, indeed.
It's nice to be able to reward one's old allies.
Was Ron Jones pleased with his peerage? Yes, Prime Minister.
He said his members would be delighted.
- His members? - Of his union.
The National Federation I didn't mean him.
I meant our backbencher! I meant to give a peerage to Ron Jones, not Ron Jones! Bloody hell! If it's any consolation, he was awfully pleased.
I bet he was! What are we going to do about Ron Jones's peerage? Give him one too? Prime Minister, we can't send two Lord Ron Jones to the upper house.
It'll look like a job lot.
- I've got to give him something.
- Does he watch television? - He hasn't even got a set.
- Fine.
Make him a governor of the BBC.
- Anything else? - Yes, one small thing.
- I need a cook/housekeeper for the flat.
- You can advertise.
- No, a government cook/housekeeper.
- That could be difficult.
- Why? - It's a private home.
I just want somebody to cook my lunch.
It's not unreasonable.
No, it's just not possible.
I can blow up the world, but not ask for scrambled eggs? - You can ASK for them.
- What if I asked the German ambassador? That's OK - official engagement, government hospitality.
We'll provide a seven-course meal with wine and brandy.
The German ambassador's lunch is government business, but mine isn't? That is so.
Any ambassador's.
Fine.
Bernard, get the diary.
On Monday, I'll have lunch with the German ambassador.
On Tuesday, with the French ambassador; on Wednesday, with the American ambassador, on Thursday, with the New Zealand High Commissioner.
- How many countries in the UN? - 158.
That'll take up six months, then we'll start round again.
You can't have lunch with ambassadors every day.
There will be other official lunches.
Even better.
We'll fill up the odd gaps.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office might have some views on that.
They say that one Prime Minister's lunch with an ambassador destroys two years of patient diplomacy.
I'm not quite sure how they'd react to 158.
- It's absurd that no one caters for us here.
- It's been like that for 250 years.
- That's the clinching argument? - For 250 years, yes.
It can't have been the clinching argument for 250 years.
50 years ago, it had only been the clinching argument for 200 years and 100 years ago Sorry.
Humphrey, I want a cook/housekeeper and I want you to see that she's paid for.
Well, let me put it like this.
Do you want the press to announce that your first act as Prime Minister was to give yourself a salary increase of £8,000 to £10,000? We wouldn't tell them.
We have no alternative.
Prime Ministers' expenses must be published.
- There's no way that we can't not tell them? - Open government.
Freedom of information.
We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out some other way.
- There must be some solution.
- There hasn't been for 250 years.
Now may we discuss government business? You were saying that you'd been thinking.
Ah, yes.
We're agreed that so far my premiership has been a great success.
Oh, indeed.
I've been asking myself what can I do to continue this run of success.
Have you considered masterly inactivity? No, Humphrey, a Prime Minister must be firm.
Indeed.
How about firm masterly inactivity? No, I shall be firm.
I've decided to cancel Trident, channel £15 billion into conventional forces and reintroduce conscription.
At one stroke, we shall solve our defence, balance of payments, unemployment and educational problems all at once.
What do you say, Humphrey? You can't reorganise the entire defence of the realm just like that.
I'm the Prime Minister.
I have the power.
Yes, within the law and the constitution and the constraints of administrative precedent, budgetary feasibility and cabinet government.
- You'll buy Cruise instead? - No, no more nuclear weapons.
But, Prime Minister You're not a secret unilateralist? - No, we still have Polaris.
- Polaris is a ramshackle old system.
The Soviets might develop a ballistic missile defence system which could intercept Polaris.
- By when? - In strategic terms, any day now.
By what year precisely? 2020? But that's sooner than you think! Are you saying that this nuclear defence system would stop all 192 Polaris missiles? Not all, virtually all - 97%.
That would leave five bombs that would get through? - A mere five! - Obliterating Moscow, Leningrad and Minsk.
Yes, but that's about all.
Enough to make the Russians stop and think.
But it's not fair.
With Trident we could obliterate the whole of eastern Europe! - I don't want to! - It's a deterrent.
- It's a bluff.
I probably wouldn't use it.
- They don't know you probably wouldn't.
- They probably do.
- Yes, probably, but they can't certainly know.
They probably certainly know.
Yes, but though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn't, they don't certainly know that although you probably wouldn't, there's no probability that you certainly would! What? It all boils down to one simple issue.
You are the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Shouldn't Great Britain have the best? Yes, of course.
If you walked into a nuclear missile showroom, you would buy Trident! It's lovely, it's elegant, it's beautiful.
It is quite simply the best, and Britain should have the best.
In the world of the nuclear missile, it is the Savile Row suit, the Rolls-Royce Corniche, the Château Lafite 1945.
It is the nuclear missile Harrods would sell you.
What more can I say? That it costs £15 billion and we don't need it.
You can say that about anything at Harrods.
Ah, General! I was hoping to have a word with you.
I wanted to sound you out about something.
You'll not like it.
- Tell me the worst.
- It will be very unpopular with the services.
- I'm planning to cancel Trident.
- Good idea.
Now, hold on, don't jump in too quickly.
No good trying to argue - What did you say? - It's a good idea.
- You're in favour? Why? - We don't need it.
Complete waste of money.
- That's what I said.
- You're right.
- The whole defence staff agree? - The navy want to keep it.
Take away Trident and they'd hardly have a role left.
- And the RAF? - You could ask them.
If you're interested in the opinion of garage mechanics.
They'd want to keep it.
They want to drop the bomb from an aeroplane.
They just like dropping things on people, but they're no good at it.
Couldn't even close the runway at Port Stanley.
Probably never find Moscow, and if they did they'd miss it.
How do we get the policy through if only the army is in favour? As you know, the Chief of Defence Staff job is becoming vacant.
Technically, it's the navy's turn, but it's your decision.
If you appoint a soldier, it's up to you.
General, aren't you the most senior soldier? As it happens, I believe I am.
Thank you.
Good advice.
Prime Minister, this is Mrs Glossop.
- Extraordinary thing! - What? I've come across a Prime Minister with a bit of sense.
Really? Where? Which is the lucky country? Ours.
He's cancelling Trident.
I could hardly believe my ears.
I'm surprised you're happy about reintroducing conscription.
- He didn't say anything about conscription.
- Slashes unemployment, wins votes.
We're an elite army, best in the world.
Professional, tough, disciplined.
We can't bring in a mob of punks and freaks and junkies and riff-raff.
A quarter of a million football hooligans? - Peeling potatoes in Aldershot? - I thought you'd say that.
- It'll be just an ordinary army.
- Like the one that won the last war? All this equal opportunity nonsense, like America! They don't know if the troops posted to them are men or women, not until they arrive.
- Sometimes not even then.
- Quite! - Much better to keep Trident.
- I thought you'd say that.
- You must stop him.
- One can't just stop the Prime Minister.
- What do we do? - We must slow him down.
After a few months, most new Prime Ministers have more or less ground to a halt anyway.
I'll have a word with the American ambassador tomorrow morning.
- Good idea.
- I thought you'd say that.
Oh, hello! I want to make sure that the BBC and ITN get good coverage on the White House lawn.
Shot of me and the President.
Then there'll be more photo coverage inside the White House.
Splendid.
Then there'll be coverage of me and the President at the start of talks the next day.
Then the President will say goodbye to me.
I hope he takes my elbow with his left hand.
He did that with the West German Chancellor.
Any chance of ensuring that beforehand with the embassy? That could be difficult.
Could you look at the Cabinet agenda? I don't know what we have embassies for.
Any time you ask them to do something really important, important for Britain - Weren't we to discuss scrapping Trident? - Indeed we were, Prime Minister.
But I thought in the first instance you might think it wiser to go into it thoroughly, review all the implications, as we are discussing the defence of the realm.
- You're trying to stop me, Humphrey.
- No, but the Cabinet must have all the facts.
That's a novel idea.
There is a special reason why I thought you might want to leave it for a while.
I've learned from the American ambassador informally that they would be very upset if we were to cancel Trident and not order another of their missiles instead.
I might as well have it out with the President.
That's the point.
The agenda of your meeting with the President must be agreed in advance.
You can't just go over there for a chat.
- Why not? - Well, you You might not think of anything to say.
If this proposal of yours were to be put to the Americans, there would be a change of plan.
- What change of plan? - Your meeting would not be with the President.
- You'd be entertained by the Vice-President.
- The Vice-President?! - You can't be serious! - I'm afraid so, Prime Minister.
Even Botswana was met by the President.
I saw it on the news.
Botswana hadn't just cancelled an order for Trident.
I'm sure they'll explain that the President had catarrh or bruised his thumb or something.
Fallen asleep perhaps.
This meeting with the President is vital for PR.
Then you should postpone the Trident discussion.
A Prime Minister must show that there is a new mind and a firm hand at Number 10.
He must be seen to have made his mark.
- But you have, Prime Minister.
- How? A cook seconded from the Cabinet Office canteen? To cook lunch for me here at the flat? Something that none of your predecessors ever accomplished.
A place in the history books.
I say! We've shown them who's in charge, haven't we? Indeed we have, Prime Minister.
A new mind and a firm hand and Trident.
A place in the history books, you say.
Oh, leave Trident off the Cabinet agenda for the time being.
That is my firm decision.
- All right? - Yes, Prime Minister.