Core Executive

Core Executive fields

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  • Created on: 23-04-12 09:40
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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 power is dispersed and is a
continuous cycle of consultation and negotiation.
It is difficult to say who is in the core executive, as it is
constantly changing!
The core executive model is a good way of thinking about UK
government, as it shows which parts of the governing system can
have influence on power and also how complex government is.
Where Does the Power Lie?

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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 as Alistair Campbell. Lots
of power rests with the PM and often non-elected advisors.…read more

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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 the collective decision making body for the UK
government. It is comprised of the Prime Minister, currently David
Cameron and also under the current coalition Nick Clegg, along with
the Cabinet Ministers.…read more

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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 to dominate
government and the whole political landscape, however it is more
complicated in reality
Sources of the PM's power:
1 ­ Royal prerogative powers (powers now exercised by the PM on
the monarch's behalf)…read more

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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
The PM has power to:
Appoint, promote or dismiss ministers
Chair meetings of the Cabinet and prepare the agenda
Appoint and chair Cabinet committees
Appoint senior civil servants
Award peerages
Decide when to call a general…read more

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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 and manages Problems arise if
cabinet system cabinet meetings senior ministers feel
Steers and sums up Senior ministers may
cabinet discussions challenge PM's
policy preference
Creates cabinet Not involved in
committees and detailed policy…read more

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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 government's failings
National leader in Expected to
times of crisis represent the public
Policy-making role Directs government Expected to be able
policy and sets to articulate a vision
Can direct policy in…read more

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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
between only a few ministers and himself. He utilised special
advisors effectively, notably Alastair Campbell and as a result of this
they have become more common nowadays.…read more

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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
used cabinet as an opportunity to made collectively
announce these decisions. Ministers CCR ­ collective cabinet responsibility
were not ready to question her.…read more

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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 by their party. It bears the personal imprint of the innovator.
Reformers - also seek power in order to achieve some future goal. But, this goal has
been previously formulated and agreed by their party.…read more


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