Complete revision notes on the Core executive and civil service

Unit 3 of AQA GOVP2

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Revision notes- The core executive
The core executive is the network of institutions and people responsible for the everyday running of
government. This includes the prime minister, cabinet and civil servants in the major government
The Prime minister has 3 sources of power;
Royal prerogative- The powers once held by the monarch which have been transferred down
to the prime minister. These include the power to declare war and powers over the civil
The powers of office that have developed by convention
The powers from being leader of the major party in government. Ultimately all the prime
ministers power relies on them being supported by their party. If this is lost they lose power
The prime minister has 5 key areas of roles and duties;
1. Chief executive- the PM is the head of the executive branch of government and chairs the
cabinet as well as organising the civil service and hiring/ firing cabinet members
2. Chief legislator- The PM will lead all policy making and define the main goals/ targets for the
3. Chief diplomat-They are the leader of the government at home and abroad and so must be
the voice of the country oversees and internally through PMQs and key speeches
4. Public relations chief- The PM is the public face of the party and government and has to
manage their image
5. Party chief - The PM as leader of the main party in government or the legislature owes his
position to that and must still carry out duties as party leader such as keeping the party
The prime ministers power can be enhanced or harmed by a number of factors. Enhanced by;
Power Description Increases power
Power of patronage (hiring and Controls who becomes ministers The back benchers want to stay
firing) or cabinet members and this loyal so as to get promoted to
helps keep back benchers loyal senior roles in the party.
Powers over the cabinet and Chairs cabinet meetings and sets Wider discussion and the length
civil service the agenda as well as deciding of meetings are reducing and the
cabinet committees PM rules more alone increasing
Powers over party Elected leader. Whipping system Enables them to get the position
and the powers of patronage and if the party are kept happy
maintain it
Power through institutional The PMs office and cabinet office More things in charge of
offices are growing in size and therefore meaning more power
have a larger remit
Powers through media access Political celebrity with control Can increase power in times of
over communications can good news however bad news
maintain focus on them and their can often be hyped to weaken
positives them.
Limitations to prime ministerial power

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Limited by Explanation Examples
Cabinet Without the backing of the cabinet the Iraq war in 2003. Robin cooke resigned from
prime minister can seem to lack leader of the HOC and Claire short from
credibility international development.…read more

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Collective cabinet responsibility is the
idea the cabinet are responsible as a whole for large scale government failure and individual
ministerial responsibility is the idea that ministers are responsible for the failures of their department
and not the individual civil servants working in that department.
Over the last few governments the work of the major departments have been in part privatised
through the setting up of executive agencies through the next step programme. These operate at
arm's length from the government and reduce ministerial responsibility.…read more


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