- R. A. W. Rhodes - "act as final arbiters of conflict between different parts of the gov't machine"
- Office of PM - largely based on convention.
- Styles of political leadership based on "events, dear boy, events" - Macmillan
- Robert Peel seen as the first modern PM, Robert Walpole official first PM
Sources of Prime Ministerial Power
- Formal powers - under royal prerogative - now exercised by PM not Monarch, e.g. declare war, sign treaties, control civil service
- Emerged through convention - by convention that citizens, party, parl., cabinet and key officials have to submit themselves to the PM authority - to a greater or lesser extent regarding convention
- PM's role as leader of maj. party in Commons - power and authority rests upon confidence of Commons - which in a maj. gov't is in turn dependent on the confidence +support of those sitting on his/her benches
Roles of PM
- 1. Chief executive
- 2. Chief legislator
- 3. Chief diplomat
- 4. Public relations chief
- 5. Party chief
- 6. Head of both foreign and domestic affairs
Absense of a codified constitution formally detailing his/her powers. Commentators have therefore formulated their own lists.
"Elective dictatorship" - former Cons. Minister Lord Hailsham 1976 (increasing exec. dom.)
- 1. Cameron
- 2. Brown
- 3. Blair
- 4. Major
- 5. Thatcher
Powers of PM
- Powers of patronage - (IMP.) - "de facto chief executive" - most significant is the power to appoint and dismiss ministers at cabinet level and below - Thatcher removed 'wets' and appointed Cecil to support her and her 'drys'
- Powers over cabinet, gov't + civil service - e.g. structure and composition of the Cabinet - first coalition cabinet - 16 Cons and 5 LDs
- Powers over Parl. - Can tailor all discussion to suit PM's party - domination. - can rely on a degree of party loyalty, whips importance too. PM can even threaten the queen to dissolve Parl. as a means of forcing rebels from their party into line. - Tactic adopted by J. Major over some votes reglating to the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and 1994.
- Power over the agenda - agenda setting and policy-making - incumbent has a key role. - largely responsible for the Queen's speech
- Powers on world stage - rooted in the prerogative powers to make war and conclude treaties, but also been enhanced by the rise of mass media powers - not seen as high as the President of the USA though
Limits on PM power
- Cabinet - poor cabinet appointments can limit power. Some people demand inclusion in the Cabient - e.g. William Hague 2010. Or sometimes PM can use people for an ideological balance - e.g. John Prescott 199, Ken Clarke 2010. Or as a reward - e.g.George Osborne 2010
- If PM leaves out people they can become powerful enemies on the backbenches - e.g. Michael Heseltine under Thatcher or Robin Cook/Clare Short under Blair
- Abuse of PM's powers - bring criticism e.g. Mo Mowlam "control freakery" of Blair, threats of resignation e.g. G. Howe and N. Lawson (1989). PMs can face difficulties if their ideas fail, e.g. Thatcher - Poll Tax, Balir over Iraq
- Parl. - can cause embarrassment. can remove w/ aVoNC - e.g. Callaghan 1979, or attempt on Major 1993 - defeated
- Party - Backbench confidence, e.g. Thatcher - challenge from Heseltine in 1990 - resignation. Blair also had massive backbench rebellions
- Public opinion - PM accountable to the public - e.g. opinion poll results
- Own abilities/circumstances - 1. Majority?, 2. Economy? 3. Coalition ... (main factors) "The office of the PM is what its holder chooses and is able to make of it" - Asquith.
- Bagehot - "efficient secret" of Brit. Pol. system in C19.
- PM controls the cabinet with the powers of patronage
- around 23 paid members usually.
- CABINET COMMITTEES - chaired by either PM or other snr. cabinet mmbers. Committees fall under different categories, - domestic/home affairs, foreign and defence, and economic.
- FULL cabinet increasingly seen as a 'rubber-stamping' body.
- CABINET OFFICE - (CO) - key player in coordinating the activities of gov't. Strengthened by Labour in 2001 - office compromised of 2,000 staff, also physical centralisation of the CO, relocated to new offices in Downing Street.
- - (other) - 1990 Thatcher forced to resign after losing support of her cabinet colleagues
- COLLETIVE RESPONSIBILITY - Collective decision making body - Lab. PM Harold Wilson suspended this during referendum campaign on continued membership of EC 1975.
- - Undermined by bilaterals
Roles and functions of cabinet/cabinet ministers
- Doctrine of collective responsibility
- Decision-making - "buckle" joining the exec. and the leg. - Bagehot, but undermined by increased use of bilaterals - key decisions being taken elsewhere, e.g. decisions over Millennium Dome 1997
- Coordinating departments - Role in coordinating the activities of gov't departments. Decision-making role of cabinet has diminished somewhat this remains
- Forward planning - Addressing porblems arising from policy and/or events. Provides 'talking shop' where broad direction of a polocy can be re-focused. Can also raise genuine concerns and deal with unexpected events
Changes under Blair
- Reduced cabinet meetings to a single, 45 minute session each week. - preferred bilateral meetings elsewhere. Mo Mowlam and others used the term 'sofa government'.
Different models of exec. control
- Cabinet gov't - PM merely 'primus inter pares', decision-making body - collective respons. decline of this type of gov't!
- Prime Ministerial cliques/'kitchen cabinet' - Thatcher+Blair, - cabinet is merely a rubber stamp
- Departmentalised gov't - Ministers accountable for their decisions - gov't departments have control over their own areas - ministers act with a degree of autonomy
- Differentiated/segmented decisions - degree of prime ministerial dominance varies in different polocy areas - other areas other responsibilities
- Prime Ministerial gov't - "elective dictatorship". de facto president - Balir and Thatcher had such large majorities - could pass most legislation - even radical
Prime ministerial or presidential power?
Lots of power, lots of checks
Considerable power, few real checks
President of USA has more foreign power, prime minister has great domestic policy scope
Yet more of a side issue - as not to do with their actual rooted powers - more how they use them
Types of leadership
- SPATIAL LEADERSHIP - developed by M. Foley - Blair is an example, create visible difference between PM and machines of gov't
- CULT OF THE OUTSIDER - characterising themselves as 'outsiders' fighting against formal structures
- PUBLIC LEADERSHIP - Sought to appeal directly to the public through social media....
- PERSONAL FACTOR - 'expanded personalities'
Organisation of gov't departments
- Ministers -> Junior Ministers -> Parliamentary Private Secretaries
- Each gov't department headed by a secretary of state (minsiters)
- E.g.s of ministers - Thresa May (home secretary), Michael Gove (Education Secretary)
- COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY - stand by decisions publically made within cabinet. Those who are not prepared to do this are expected to resign - e.g. Robin Cook Iraq 2003.
- INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY - personal respon. e.g. Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington's resignation in the wake of the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands in 1981
- Administrative or bureaucratic arm of government - top four grades within the snr vicil service (c. 1,000 staff) have trad. had greatest input into policy
- CIVIL SERVICE REFORM (1979-2005) -
- Been criticised for being ineffiecient and obstructive - been affected by two key developments:
- 1. the 'hiving-off' of many responsibilities to semi-autonomous agencies - called Next Steps agencies (Thatcher)
- 2. Rise of special advisers - (spin-doctors)
- Some say these changes have resulted in politicisation of the service
- Fulton Report (1968) - criticised the civil service's amateurish approach, although full proposals never fully implemented - service underwent major changes betwen 1979-1990.
- Derek Rayner's Efficiency Unit - led to the Financial Management Initiative (FMI) - sought to introduce a more business-like culture to the service.
- Staff numbers fell from 750,000 (1979) to 600,000 (1990)
- The Next Steps Programme - from 1988 resulted in a process of agencification. By 1990 75% of all civil servants were employed by such agencies. John Major's Citizen's Charter 1991 emphasised the import. of quality in pub. services - need for greater forward planning - IMPACT: some civil servants becoming publicly known and identified as being responsible for the execution of policy (e.g. Head of Child Support Agency) 1990-12agencies, 2005-130 !
Characteristics and roles of civil service
- IMPARTIALITY - Theory: civil servants should not be asked to perform political functions Practice: undermined by rise of special advisers since 1979
- ANONYMITY - Theory: Should not be named publically Practice: Public criticism of named civil servants over policy undermined this theory - e.g. over Westland affair in 1986 - and by rise of agencies where civil servants seem responsible not ministers (e.g. Prison Service)
- PERMANENCE - Theory: Should remain in office even following a change in gov't Practice: undermined by fixed-term contracts
CONFIDENTIALITY? - some say this should be added as a fourth principle - leaks and other events have served to undermine this - Sarah Tisdall sentences to 6 months' imprisonment in 1983 for leaking details of the arrival of cruise missiles at Greenham Common
Role of the civil service
- Policy advice
- Policy execution
- Departmental administration
- Ensuring continuity and a smooth transition between gov'ts
SPECIAL ADVISERS -
- undermine the civil service
- Roles - 1. Make the gov't less reliant on the work of the civil service, and 2. to help the PM keep up-to-date with often far better staffed and resourced gov't departments
- 5 SA in 1990 - 108 in 2003
- 'Spin doctors' - politicalisation of civil service
- Lots of scanals including spin doctors - e.g. Jo Moore - Stephen Byers' media adviser who on 9/11 said it was a "good day to bury bad news" 2002 departure
Relationship between ministers and civil servants
- 1. Formal constitutional model - Civil servants serve ministers, providing information but preserving impartiality, and therefore anonymity and permanence
- 2. Adversarial model - Minsiters and civil servants = struggle for power. Civil service has its own agenda - seeks to obstruct gov't
- 3. Village life in the Whitehall community model - Ministers within the department provide the vision and drive - civil servants fill in the detail
- 4. Bureaucratic expansionism model - Civil servants serve their own interests by creating bureaucratic empires that are financially inefficient and get in the way of effective gov't
Theoretical working of the civil service - "Ministers decide, servants advise"
Servants or masters?
- control information given to ministers
- focused on one area (ministers usually have many commitments e.g. John Prescott)
- Larger network
- More experience and knowledge on department
- Final power
- Use of special advisers
'Yes Minister' model -
Civil service essentially overpowered and controlled the minister - many thought this satirical show was all too realistic