PM and Cabinet

"The Government"

  • There are a number of qualities a minister should possess: they must be politically reliable meaning they should accept collective responsibility, being a junior minister before becoming a minister, ability to cope under pressure and being a good debater, obtaining a strong poltical authority and possess managerial skills.
  • Cabinet government is a system of government where the cabinet is the central policy-making body. This used to be the British system of government but it has gradually been eroded.
  • Prime ministerial domination, cabinet committees (committees made up of around five people, which have increasingly taken over from the full cabinet in terms of decision making and policy making).
  • Marginilisation- growth of PM power, departments of the cabinet becoming more independent, policy making in cabinet committees, growth of 10 Downing St.
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PM and Cabinet

  • Remaining functions of cabinet- settling ministerial disputes, making decisions which cannot be made elsewhere, dealing with domsestic emergencies, determing presentation of policy, legitimising decisions made elsewhere.
  • Main weaknesses of cabinet- PM is now dominant, most decisions are now made in committees, meetings are shorter and are stage managed, large departments have become more independent, decisions made in bi-lateral meetings, decision making in Downing St.
  • Collective responsibility is the fact that all cabinet decisions should be well supported by all members of the Cabinet, at least in public.
  • Individual responsibility- is the convention that a minister should resign if they or there department makes a serious political or practical
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PM and Cabinet

Role of the PM

  • The functions of the PM are as follows: chief policy maker, head of government, chief government spokesperson, commander in chief of the armed forces, chief foreign policy maker, parliamentary leader.
  • Sources of PM power and authority: the ruling party, the royal prerogative, popular mandate and Parliament.
  • The powers enjoyed by all PMs are as follows: appointment and dismissal of ministers, granting peerages and other honours, head of the civil service, appointing senior judges and senior bishops, determing the date of a general election, commanding the armed forces, conducting foreign relations, maintaining national security and changing cabinet meetings.
  • Limitations on PM power: size of Parliamentary majority e.g Blair and Thatcher, united party e.g. Blair and Thatcher, public and media profile Blair and Cameron and the confidence of Cabinet and Parliament.
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PM and Cabinet

Is the PM now effectively a President?

  • Arguments for: PMs now perform most of the functions of the head's of state, PMs now have extensive sources of their own, 10 Downing St now resembles the White House, the media tend to concentrate on the PM as a personal spokesman, foreign and military affairs have become increasingly important and the PM dominates these, spatial leadership looks like Presidential style.
  • Arguments against the proposition: there has been no permanent change as the role of the PM constantly ebbs and flows, the substance role has not changed, there are important forces which rein in the PM which are absent for a President, he is not actually head of state.
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PM and Cabinet

Ministers and Civil Servants

  • Tasks of ministers include: setting the political agenda, deciding between political agenda's and steer proposals through Parliament,
  • In comparison to civil servants their tasks include: gathering information for policy making, to advise on cosequences of decisions, organise implementation of policies.
  • Ministers: are politically committed to one party, are temporary, are expected make political decisions, have to use judgements about the outcomes of decisions, have a high public profile, publicly accountable, will lose office if party loses power.
  • Civil servants: must display no politcal alliegance, are permanent or will spend a long time in office, may only suggest alternatives in a neutral way, identify possible outcomes in a neutral way, are expected to be largely anonymous, cannot be held accountable, will remain in position even if there is a change in government,
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