Who has power in the executive
In the UK, the executive, judiciary and legislature are formed by a fusion of powers, as opposed to the US where they are formed by a separation of power.
The theories of executive power (who runs the country) include:
- Cabinet Government
- Prime ministerial Government
- Core executive model.
The Cabinet Government
In the cabinet government:
- Power is collective and is not personal.
- This is due to collective responsibility and 'primus inter pares.'
- However, in a formal sense, this has been outdated because many PMs have changed the way their cabinet operates:
- E.g. Tony Blair's cabinet was known as 'sofa cabinet' because he had one to one meetings with his cabinet members.
- Wilson's was known as 'kitchen cabinet' as he held meetings in his kitchen.
- It has also been outdated because the PM cannot survive without the support of their cabinet.
- Some cabinet ministers are seen as 'unsackable', which links the PM's authority to the banking of the cabinet 'beasts'.
- E.g. Michael Gove is not popular due to his unpopular policies in Education. As a result, he was removed from his position as Minister of Education, but has become the Chief Party Whip and the Minister of Justice.
- Whereas Iain Duncan Smith was forced to resign from his position as Minister for Works and Pensions, as he openly disagreed with Cameron's proposals to cut disabled benefits.
Prime ministerial government
Prime ministerial government:
- The power of the Prime Minister has grown, during the 20th Century.
- Crossman (1963) had the view that Parliament and the executive is dominated by the Prime Minister (not the cabinet).
- This is because the Prime Minister is the:
- Head of the civil service
- Leader of the largest political party in the HOC.
Foley (1993-2000) argued that UK Prime Ministers have become increasingly more like Presidents because:
- The prime ministerial model relates to this because PM's have made decisions independent from the HOC.
- E.g. Tony Blair went ahead with his decision to join the Iraq War, with only consulting Gordon Brown- not consulting the HOC.
- There has been an increase in 'spatial leadership', which means 'leadership based on the people.'
- This is where PM's have become more independent from the cabinet.
- There is a tedency towards 'populist outreach', where it becomes more about personality instead of the politics, as many people's votes are based on who they would rather become PM.
- E.g. The EU campaign, as the invidual basis is to remain in.
- This also leads to personalised election campaigns, such as Cameron Vs Miliband.
- Ultimately, PMs are becoming more like Presidents, instead of being them.
- This shows that there is more of a direct link between the people and the PM.
- It also signifies how significant the mass media are in affecting power.
The Core executive model
The Core executive model:
- Goes beyond the 'cabinet Vs Prime minister' debate.
- It also recognises a 'core executive' (Smith 1999).
- This means that neither the PM or cabinet is independent.
- The balance of power in the cabinet is affected by the resources available, such as:
- Civil Servants
- Spin doctors (these controls and spins the media, by turning negative press into positive.
- Therefore, power is never in one person's hand.