The relationship between the Prime Minister and th
The Prime Minister's relationship with the core executive:
- The PM is the head of an elected govt, and is the principle minister of a sovereign or state.
- The core executive is the committee of senior ministers who are responsible for controlling govt policy.
- The groupings of the core executive is designed to take the pressure off full cabinet and to provide a lower level forum for decision making, consideration of current issues that relate to govt, and resolution of inter departmental disagreement.
- The Exchequer is the govt department responsbile for developing and executing the British govt's public finance and economic policies.
- There is a collection of over 100 senior officials and political advisors, who advice the PM about:
- Policy and implementation
- Party management
- Govt relations.
- The cabinet system is resonsible for coordinating policy across Whitehall departments and ensuring effective policy delivery.
Hiring and firing
The key power of the PM to hire and fire is through PATRONAGE:
- This is the power to grant favours, and is gained from royal prerogative.
- Therefore, the PM can promote loyal supporters, which means that MPs who disagree with the PM can be kept out. (sycophantic).
- E.g. Thatcher transformed her cabinet in the 80s, into 'drys' who were economic liberals or thatcherities. Whereas before, the cabinet were formed of 'wets' who were one nationist.
- Currently, the Tories are little more centre.
- However, the PM still needs to consider that:
- All ministers must be MPs or peers.
- The cabinet must provide ideological and political balance, to achieve party unity.
- The cabinet govt has an impact on who is a minister. (reshuffle).
The PM has the power to control the cabinet and the cabinet system because:
- They chair cabinet meetings and sum up decisions.
- PMs decide how long meetings last and when they happen.
- Since the 1950s, the number of cabinet meetings has declined.
- Tony Blair preferred 'sofa government' where he would hold his meetings on a one to one basis.
- The support for the PM is based on their popularity.
- Under a coaltion, the process can become entangled in coalition management, as the PM has to compromise.
Party leadership sets the Prime Minister apart from all the other ministers:
- It also gives them more leverage through:
- The fact that the PM is the party leader
- The PM can command a disciplined majority in the HOC, controlling Parliament as a result.
- e.g. Blair was able to control the govt has he had a huge majority in 1997, which is how he was able to introduce HOL reform.
- The PM has to deliver electoral success, and if popularity wanes, party loyalty can evaporate quickly.
- Blair's popularity decreased.
- Also, no PM can survive without the support of the party.
- E.g. They can be defeated by a vote of no confidence (James Callagham).
Access to the media
The growth of media has reordered the power relationships within the political executive. The mass media has:
- Given the people 'political celebrity', which has led to the growth of 'spactial leadership.'
- An obsession with personality and image of politicians, which guarantees that the media focuses on the political leaders.
- A growth of 'spin doctors' who manipulate the presentation of politicians, to gain a distorted result.
- This is where information is 'vetted' before release to the media, and where key newspapers back certain politicians. (Sun-supported Blair).
- However, 'bad' news stories are often 'hyped' by the media and turn problems into crisis.