Notes on the Prime Minister


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  • Created on: 19-05-12 17:30
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The Prime Minister ­ Types of
Cabinet Government:
Executive power vested in cabinet of collective
PM `first among equals'
Decision making is a collective task
PM Government:
PM is the predominant figure
The more institutional and personal power
resources the more likely they are to be
But must work with their ministers and respond
to parliament and public opinions
Leads but not commands, directs but not
Presidential Government:
Personalised leadership ­ Thatcher + Blair
personally associated with major policy
initiatives. Election campaigns, a victory =
personal mandate by PM e.g. Leadership
Public outreach ­ media spotlight falls on them.
Communicatorinchief for govt. Spokesperson
for the nation.

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Spatial Leadership ­ distance between PM +
Govt. Relies on close advisors. Blair and his
`sofa government'.
Strengthens the PM but there are problems ­
personally blames for policy failure. Blair
eroded foundations of PM power, developed
individual power base. However he was
exposed over the Iraq war 2003.…read more

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Powers of the PM
Patronage (appointing to important positions)
Life peers to the House of Lords
Cabinet Ministers (Labour must elect from MPs who
have been elected to shadow council)
The theory is that the PM creates the cabinet in his
own image, rewarding those who support him.
The PM is unlikely to overlook senior figures even
if they are rivals. John Major 1990 opponents,
such as Heseltine, were appointed to the cabinet.…read more

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Can promote successful ministers and demote
Reshuffles can blow up in their faces ­ Thatcher's
demotion of Howe 1989 had damaging consequences
Refusals can affect plans Brown wanted to make Ed
Balls chancellor but Darling wouldn't accept any other
Steers discussions + sums up as chair
BUT if senior ministers have a different viewpoint, it
may not be so easy to get their own way.…read more

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Working majority strengthens ­ more likely to enjoy the
confidence of the Commons and easier to enact
Increased rebellion of backbench MPs unwilling to
follow party whips on controversial issues suggests
MPs are not just `lobby fodder' and won't vote for the
government come what may e.g. Blair and Iraq war.
Elected = legitimate position
Party support isn't unconditional. Thatcher forced out
from having little support in 1990 leadership contest.
Public Standing
High public profile
Represents the UK in international affairs e.g.…read more

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If they have a strong interest in something, they
can give it a central place in programme
Important in crises
Active interest in economic and foreign policy the
Chancellor of the Exchequer and the foreign
secretary play important roles, but the PM sets
objectives and directs policy.
PM needs backing of senior figures on
controversial matters. Nigel Lawson and Howe
forced Thatcher to move govt. policy on ERM
1989 by threatening to resign.…read more

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Prime Minister's Office
190 people
Policy advice ­ may offer alternative views to
Communications ­ presentation of govt. policy
and relations with media
Prime Ministers
Leadership Styles:
Theory of Spatial Leadership (Michael Foley) ­
PM separates himself from institutions and
cabinet, becoming more presidential. E.g. PM's
do not usually vote on minor issues and do not
attend Parliament.
Elastic Premiership (George Jones) ­ May exert
power over cabinet, but they will reassert their
authority e.g. Thatcher
The 10yearrule e.g.…read more

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Kept some issues away from cabinet, Nigel
Lawson accused her of paying more attention to
her advisers than cabinet ministers
Constructed cabinet of ideological allies
Weak because...
1990 ­ few loyal allies left in cabinet Major
exploited her weaknesses to persuade her to
agree entry into ERM.
Failed to win ballot of Conservative leadership
Met ministers 1 by 1 though few offered support
Economic policies, unpopular policies, cabinet
divisions and low opinion poll ratings
Ignored concerns and bypassed cabinet, which
weakened her.…read more

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Allowed ministers to dominate policy e.g. Kenneth
Clarke at Treasury
Tony Blair 19972007
Dominant because...
`Command premiership'
Took key decisions and acted as
Conducted govt. business through bilateral
meetings, agreeing on policy with individual
`Sofa Government' ­ criticised by Butler
Strengthened PMs office
Media savvy ­ supported by `The Sun'
Strong convictions
Improved policy and coordination and delivery
Weak because...
Large scale rebellions by Labour MPs e.g.…read more

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Responded well to terrorist attacks
Gave impression his government had new
Weak because...
Promised collegiate style but reverted to
reliance on inner circle
PM office did not function well
Poor communicator
Dissent with Labour party ­ James Purnell
resigned as 2009 European election polls
closed, calling for Brown to make way for new
Authority damages, unable to impose his will
Few successes
Had to appoint enemies to government.…read more


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