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Page 1

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The Prime Minister ­ Types of
Government
Cabinet Government:
Executive power vested in cabinet of collective
responsibility
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
predominant
But…

Page 2

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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.

Page 3

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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.
However:
The…

Page 4

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Can promote successful ministers and demote
underachievers.
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
post
Authority
Steers discussions + sums up as chair
BUT…

Page 5

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Working majority strengthens ­ more likely to enjoy the
confidence of the Commons and easier to enact
policies.
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…

Page 6

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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…

Page 7

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Prime Minister's Office
190 people
Policy advice ­ may offer alternative views to
cabinet.
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…

Page 8

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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…

Page 9

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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

communicatorinchief
Conducted govt. business through bilateral

meetings, agreeing on policy with individual
ministers
`Sofa Government' ­ criticised by Butler

Strengthened PMs office

Media savvy ­ supported by…

Page 10

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Responded well to terrorist attacks
Gave impression his government had new
ideas
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…

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