Prime minister and cabinet

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Prime minister and Cabinet
What is the nature of the cabinet?
It is made up of 20-25 MPs or Peers from the governing party/parties
Normally a single party wins a majority in the Commons and so the cabinet is just
made up of members of that party; however 2010 was an exception to this as a
coalition government was formed and therefore both the Conservatives and Liberal
Democrats needed to be represented.
There were 18 Conservatives and 5 Liberal Democrats appointed.
The prime minister decides what is to be debated at the meeting.
It is chaired by the prime minister and the most senior civil servant.
There is normally one cabinet meeting a week however they can call more if there is
an emergency.
To further deal with policies discussed in the cabinet there are cabinet committees of
about 4-6 members, junior ministers can also be a part of these. They are chaired by
the prime minister or other senior cabinet members.
The details of the policies discussed in the cabinet meeting are held for 30 years;
however any main decisions are made widely known.
The prime minister can appoint or dismiss positions or could reshuffle the structure
of the cabinet.
The cabinet works under the principle of collect responsibility.
Members of the cabinet have to be from either houses
What is the role of the cabinet?
It formalises and legitimises official government policies; this is because all legislation
needs the cabinet's stamp of approval in order for it to be generally recognised.
Although cabinet carries out this function, it does not make the majorities of the
policies that are passed through the Cabinet.
It legitimises decisions made from elsewhere.
It discusses key issues that have emerged such as solving the banking crisis 2007-09,
or when deciding to bid for the 2012 Olympics.
It can sometimes deal with disputes between the different government departments
and ministers.
It sorts out the presentation of policy to the public and the media.
Sets the agenda for Parliament, so that it doesn't clash with when ministers need to
be in their House.
The business of Parliament is arranged in the cabinet so that it is in conjunction with
the party whips.
What is the role of ministers?
They are senior members of the governing party/parties.
The most senior ministers are appointed to the cabinet and become part of the
central executive of the government.
Those that do not sit on the cabinet are called `junior ministers'.
Some senior ministers will have a dual role of observing a departmental select
committee and being a member of the cabinet, the senior decision making body
Most ministers have to manage a government department, being responsible for its
policies and decisions.

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Page 2

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Ministers preside of the drafting of legislation and are responsible for managing
proposed legislation through Parliament.
Ministers are assisted by large numbers of neutral civil servants and private advisers.
What is the prime minister?
The most senior minister in the government
The prime minister derives their power from the monarch; therefore effectively the
prime minister is the monarch's representative so has all her powers. These powers
that have transferred are called prerogative powers.
The prime minister is head of GOVERNMENT NOT head of state.…read more

Page 3

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The prime minister had to divide the cabinet seats by the 2 parties in power.
The prime minister had to negotiate policy with his coalition partner- Nick Clegg
Collective responsibility comes under stress because the government is made up of
two competing parties.…read more

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In a coalition government, the prime minister must take into account of the views
and demands of their coalition partner. David Cameron 2010 onwards
Prime Ministerial Leadership...
It is acknowledged that prime ministers normally dominate the cabinet. This is
achieved by the `power of patronage' the prime minister is able to hire and fire
anyone they like, this means that most ministers are extremely loyal to the prime
The prime minister controls the cabinets agenda and so is able to manipulate the
policies discussed.…read more

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Factors= 1. Which individuals should be brought into the cabinet?
2. What should be the political `balance' of the cabinet?
Individual considerations...
1. A close ally of the prime minister, has an advantage as they can be relied upon to
stay loyal to the leader, such as George Osborne for David Cameron
2. Promotion may be used as reward for support in the past, such as Oliver Letwin
3.…read more

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Is the Prime Minister now effectively a president?
Yes No
Prerogative powers are extremely important, The prime minister is not head of state and
especially when concerning foreign relations and therefore cannot claim to speak for the nation as
military matters. Therefore the prime ministers a whole.
role as commander in chief and foreign policy
maker makes him appear presidential.…read more

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He didn't have a strong parliamentary majority and so his mandate was weak.
He had little of an international profile
Tony Blair 1997-2007
He led a new political movement- New Labour
He built up a large policy-making machine that reported directly to him.…read more


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