The Prime Minister
· firing and hiring – (power of patronage) so increases their power as they can keep loyal supporters e.g. Margaret Thatcher ensured all economic powers ‘drys’ or ‘Thatcherites’ and in 2013 in the Labour reshuffle – Ed Miliband got rid of all the ‘Blairites’ and even other appointments such as Ofsted and BBC BUT, there are limitations as they have to be MPs, have to ensure that there is an ideological balance so as to be seen as democratic, have to represent (women, ethnic minorities), opponents may be less dangerous in government during a coalition.
· Managing the cabinet – they are able to harness the decision making process to their own ends, chair cabinet meetings where they manage agendas, they convene cabinet meetings – decide how long for and number/nature of them, appoint number and chairs e.g. 1950 – now there have been 100-40 meetings. Under Tony Blair they lasted under an hour but under Gordon Brown they were longer. Blair had a “sofa government” using “bilaterals” (meeting with specific ministers) but Brown and Thatcher made use of committees and sub-committees BUT, there are limitations as resignations from the cabinet damages public support, support from the cabinet is based on the PM’s success and the coalition puts difficulties on it
· Leading the party – this increases their authority with the cabinet as they recognise party loyalty focuses on the Prime Minister, it allows the PM to command a disciplined majority in the House of Commons and means that people will recognise the party fortunes are linked to the PM’s personal popularity which discourages party splits and public criticism e.g. Margaret Thatcher 1979-1990 was very popular and strong leadership meant she never lost an election BUT, there are limitations if the leader is considered an electoral liability e.g. Margaret Thatcher 1990 ‘vote of no confidence’
· Institutional supports – PM does not have a supporting department so has prime minister’s office and cabinet office. Blair created ‘delivery unit’ (for policy delivery), social exclusion unit, women’s unit etc e.g. under Major = 8 special advisors but under Blair = 50. Blair was the first to give senior special advisors formal control over civil servants – Cameron continued but coalition committed to reducing the numbers
· Emergency powers – an act of parl gives them more powers e.g. Gordon Brown in first few weeks as PM acted decisively on foot and mouth epidemic, terrorist scare at Glasgow…