The Prime Minister, Cabinet and Executive
The executive is the branch of governments that is responsible for the implementation of laws and polices made by parliament. It is the chief source of political leadership and controls the policy process, in short it ‘governs’. The executive branch extends from the prime minister (the head of government and the chair of the cabinet) to members of the police and military. There are two parts:
1. The government of the day is composed of ministers and its job is to take overall responsibility for the direction and co-ordination of government policy.
2. The official executive is also known as the bureaucracy (the administrative machinery of government; literally it means ‘rule by officials’). This is composed of civil servants and its job is to implement government policy.
The prime minister is the most important figure in the UK political system, they are the Uks chief executive. Until the 1980s the post of PM had little official recognition the person who held the post was technically known as the First Lord of the treasury. However the power attached to the office has grown enormously, arguably it is leaning towards presidentialism (the tendency for political leaders to act increasingly like executive presidents through the rise of personalized leadership
To become the PM a politicians must fulfill three qualifications:
1. They must be MPS, by convention all PMs sit in the HOC. No lord has been appointed as PM since Lord Salisbury in 1895.
2. They must be a party leader. Many PMS are appointed as a result of being elected as leader of their parties (James Callaghan in 1976 and John Major 1992) others are removed when they lose the leadership (Margaret thatcher in 1990 and Tony Blair in 2007). IN a very unusual step John Major resigned as the conservative leader in June 1995 in order to predicate a leadership election.
3. Their party must have majority control over the HOC. Most PMs come to power as a result of general election victories (Wilson in 1974 and Thatcher in 1979) and most leave office as a result of election defeats (Callaghan in 1979).
However there is possible confusion in the result of a hung parliament. In May 2010 the queen asked the leader of the largest party in the HOC, to form a government despite the fact the Conservatives were 19 seats short of a majority. This occurred on the basis of a deal with the Liberal Democrats.
The role of the PM
The role of the PM has been developed over time and has been shaped by practical circumstances. The traditional view of the PM was defined by Walter Bagehot as 'primus inter pares' which means 'first among equals'. The view implied that:
1. 'First' in the sense that they are the primary representative or government both in relation to the monarch and through the right to be consulted about significant policy issues.