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Core Executive ­ A Revision Guide by
Y12 2011-2

Core Executive ­ The network of key institutions and people in
power. Includes PM and cabinet, senior civil servants, key military
personnel, PM's law officers etc.

The core executive model emphasises the complexity and fluidity of
government. It demonstrates that…

Page 2

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Real power within the core executive often depends on the style of
the Prime Minister:

Presidential style/Prime Ministerial Government ­ while we
cannot have a president, some PM's have governed with a
Presidential style e.g. Blair ­ this involves less use of the
cabinet and more use of SPADs such…

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In the core executive as a whole it is very difficult to know where
true power lies. In reality, the style of the leader has a great effect
on who dominates cabinet, and where the decisions ultimately
come from.

What is Cabinet and what are its functions?


Cabinet is…

Page 4

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How powerful is the British Prime Minister? Do the
resources of the British PM bring him significant power?
(resources and constraints)


Walter Bagehot ­ `Primus inter pares' ­ first among equals

The formal, constitutional role and power of the British PM suggest
an extremely powerful individual with the potential…

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Chief legislator ­ involved in policy making and helps decide
the final decision
Chief diplomat ­ represents the whole country within Britain
and abroad
Public relations chief ­ always in the media and has to act
accordingly at all times
Party chief ­ leader of the party in government


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Do the resources of the British PM bring him significant power?

Yes No
Patronage Appoints ministers Senior colleagues
have claim to posts
Can place allies in Desirability of
key roles ideological balance
Dismisses ministers Botched reshuffles
create rivals
Can appoint Availability of talent
outsiders to
Authority in the Chairs…

Page 7

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Elected as leader by Party rules allow for
MPs and part a leadership
members challenge
Party normally has Backbench
majority in the rebellions have
House of Commons become more
Public standing Has higher public Unpopularity with
profile than other voters undermines
ministers authority
Communicator-in-chi Blamed for
ef for the…

Page 8

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government meaning they have more support and can pass
legislation easier and achieve their aims with no hassle. An example
of a predominant PM is Blair; he had more direct control over
government departments, fewer and shorter cabinet meetings,
instead discussing in the `kitchen cabinet', a less formal settings

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Examples of Prime ministerial Examples of Cabinet governments
John Major ­ after Thatcher's
Margaret Thatcher (2nd term as PM) ­ dominance over government Major had
used bilateral meetings with individual little choice but to lead a more cabinet
ministers to determine policy areas. She government where decisions were

Page 10

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What exactly do we mean by Prime Ministerial Style?


Norton's Model (1987,1988) identifies four main types of PM:

Innovators - seek power in order to achieve some future goal. They are prepared to
risk unpopularity in order to achieve that goal. The goal is not necessarily formulated
and agreed…


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