PM and cabinet

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Who is in the executive?
The PM, government ministers, cabinet, top civil servants and cabinet committees
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What, in theory, is the PM in relation to his colleagues?
First among equals
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What is first among equals in Latin?
Primus inter pares
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Why would the PM be first among equals?
He was elected by his party, not the people, to lead and therefore he is no more special than his parliamentary colleagues
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What are the roles of the PM?
Making government, directing government policy, managing the cabinet, organizing government, controlling parliament and providing national leadership
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What are the sources of the PM's power?
The ruling party, the royal prerogatives, the popular mandate and parliament
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What were the circumstances for Thatcher's prime ministership?
Large parliamentary majorities, weak opposition, ideological commitment, favorable economic conditions, personal popularity and strong foreign policy successes
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Give an example of a strong foreign policy success under Thatcher
The Falklands
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What were the circumstances for John Major's Prime Ministership?
Lack of a decisive majority, strong opposition, divided party and leadership, unfavorable economic circumstances and a decadent party
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What were the circumstances for Tony Blair's Prime Ministership?
Large majority, weak opposition, ideological unity, favorable economic conditions and personal popularity
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Give examples of some of the issues that Cameron has faced in his PM role
Panama papers, tax credits, Iain Duncan Smith resignation etc
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What event sparked the downfall of Thatcher?
Lord Howe's resignation speech
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What are the three theories of executive power?
Cabinet, presidential and core executive
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What are the features of the cabinet government?
The cabinet fuses the executive with the legislature, cabinet is the senior executive organ and within the cabinet decisions are made democratically with each member's views carrying equal weight
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What is the presidential theory?
The theory suggesting that UK PMs increasingly resemble presidents
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What are the features of the presidential leadership?
Growth of spatial leadership, tendency to appeal directly to the public not government, personalised election campaigns, wider use of special advisers and a strengthened cabinet office
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What is the core executive model?
Where a small group of supportive people make decisions separately to the cabinet
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Give an example of the core executive
The quad
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What is the elastic theory?
The theory that if a PM oversteps their power they will be reined in by constraints of power
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Who came up with the elastic theory?
George Jones
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Which PM increasingly marginalised the cabinet?
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What did Blair often do with regards to cabinet agendas?
Regularly abandoned them
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What kind of people did Blair appoint to his cabinet?
Those without a pre-existing power base in the party so they depended on his patronage alone
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Within the first two years of Blair as PM, what happened to the numbers of personal staff?
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How many special advisers did Cameron have in 2010?
Sixty six
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How many special advisers did Cameron have in 2012?
Eighty three
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What are bi-laterals?
Where two ministers hold a private meeting and make policy decisions alone
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What would be the counter arguments to the idea that PMs dominate the political system?
PMs are only as powerful as their circumstances allow them to be, dominance depends on the personality of the PM, parliament has become more active and PM can be overruled
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Which PM had a personality which tended to sway away from presidential rule?
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Give an example of the PM having a rebellious parliament
The refusal of parliament to pass the 30 day detention ability from Blair
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Which member of Blair's cabinet resigned and revealed misconduct by the PM and his staff?
Clare Short
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What are the functions of cabinet?
To register and ratify decisions taken elsewhere, discussing major issues, settling disputes among ministers and departments, reaching decisions on major issues, receiving reports on developments and determining business in parliament
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What is the idea of individual ministerial responsibility?
A cabinet minister is expected to be accountable for their actions
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What are the ways in which a minister can admit responsibility?
Inform and explain to parliament what has happened, to apologise and admit error, to take action to correct the situation and ensure it doesn't happen again or to resign
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How many of Blair's ministers quit over Iraq?
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Why did David Laws resign from cabinet in 2010?
Due to claiming expenses to pay rent to his gay lover
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What is the Ministerial Code?
A document handed to every new ministers containing a section on individual ministerial responsibility
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When can ministers only express a view about a certain decision or policy?
Before a formal decision is made, after then they must endorse the decision made
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Who came up with the term 'the people's princess'?
Tony Blair
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Give an example of the PM taking on the role of national leadership in times of crisis?
Tony Blair over the death of princess Diana
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What are the royal prerogatives?
Powers previously held by the monarchy and handed over to government such as control of the armed forces
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Which is the most democratic presidential theory?
The cabinet government
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Does Obama have to listen to Congress?
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Does the PM have to listen to parliament?
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Who are special advisers?
Advisers that are solely loyal to the PM
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What do special advisers mimic from the US?
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What is spatial leadership?
Making yourself out to be an outsider from government
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Give an example of spatial leadership
Tony Blair announcing new policy to the media without consulting cabinet
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Give an example of Blair announcing policy without the consent of cabinet
He is criticised for supposedly going to war in Iraq without cabinet consent
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What is an advantage of the core executive model?
It is much more quick and efficient
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What is a criticism of the core executive?
It is undemocratic
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Give an example of a PM having a close relationship with the Treasury
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When did Thatcher come to power?
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What did Thatcher want to do with many public bodies?
Privatise them
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Give an example of a good foreign relation that Thatcher had that made her popular?
A close relationship with Reagan
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What kind of attitude did Major have?
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Give examples of scandals throughout Major's leadership
David Mellor having an affair with an actress
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Which PM did Neil Hamilton serve?
John Major
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What did Neil Hamilton do?
Accepted money for asking questions in parliament on behalf of Mohamed Al-Fayed
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What was Mohamed Al-Fayed the owner of?
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How much did Mohamed Al-Fayed pay Neil Hamilton?
Two thousand per question
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Give an example of factions under the leadership of Blair
Blairites vs Brownites
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What is spatial leadership?
The concept of PMs removing themselves from the party and elevating above it
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How may the political system rein in a presidential PM?
Revolting, party rebellions, internal calls for leadership challenge, vote of no confidence etc
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What are the arguments that say that it is the office of the PM and not the PM themselves that are changing?
That there is increased patronage, marginalisation of cabinet, PM now has control over cabinet committees, natural growth in advisers, and media using PM as a spokesperson for government
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Why may increasing patronage be a change in the office of the PM and not a presidential action of the PM himself?
Nowadays there are naturally more departments and positions to appoint than ever, thus PMs have had to increase patronage
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How many government departments are there?
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Why may the marginalisation of cabinet be a natural change in the office of the PM?
There are so many departments so therefore to hear all of them would be near impossible
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Give an example of a bi-lateral
Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt
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What position did Patricia Hewitt hold?
Health Secretary
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What happened to the number of special advisers in the first two years of Blair?
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Who was Tony Blair's spin doctor?
Alastair Campbell
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How long were Blair's meetings with cabinet?
Roughly an hour
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What did Blair do with the amount of time he spent with cabinet?
Cut it down
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Who controlled the agenda of cabinet under Blair?
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What was a scandal that occurred under Blair and involved Blair himself?
Cash for Honours
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What would happen to a reporter if they wrote something negative about Blair?
They would not be allowed to come to the next press conference
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Name one of Cameron's special advisers
Lynton Crosby
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How many cabinet members were there in 2010?
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Can the members of the cabinet be from the HoL?
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How often do the cabinet meet?
Once a week
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Who chairs the cabinet meetings?
The PM
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Who chairs cabinet committees?
The PM or other senior cabinet members
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How many people sit in cabinet committees?
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Give examples of cabinet committees
Defence, foreign affairs, environment etc
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How long do cabinet meeting minutes stay secret for?
30 years
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What is a reshuffle?
Where cabinet members are moved around into different posts
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What are the functions of cabinet?
Formalizes and legitimizes government policy, all policies need approval from cabinet, deals with disputes between departments, meetings in crisis situations, where the presentation of policy is decided & decides the business of parliament
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Give examples of cabinet meetings in emergency situations
Meetings over the financial crisis 2007-09
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What rarely happens in the cabinet?
Policy formulation
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Give examples of important decisions made by the whole cabinet
The decision to bid for the 2012 Olympics
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What is the core executive?
The name for the collective identity of central government
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What are the functions and roles of ministers?
They are a senior member of the governing party, most ministers have to manage a government department, they preside over the drafting of legislation and are responsible for managing the proposed legislation through parliament, part of the executive
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What are junior ministers?
Ministers who do not sit in the cabinet
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Who assists ministers?
Civil servants and private advisers
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How are ministers allocated to the cabinet?
They are appointed
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What is prime ministerial government?
The idea that central government is now dominated by the prime minister to such a degree that the term should be applied
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What are the characteristics of the office of the PM?
PM is the most senior minister, derives their authority from the monarch, PM is monarch's representative, head of government, leader of majority party, not elected to position and first among equals
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Who is the head of state?
The Queen
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What is primus inter pares?
First among equals
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What is collective ministerial responsibility?
The principle that all government ministers are collectively responsible for all decisions of government and should defend those policies and agree with them publicly even if not privately
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What happens to minister who reject collective responsibility?
They could be dismissed and or should resign
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Why is collective responsibility important?
It maintains government unity, it helps the PM to maintain loyalty and prevents the opposition from dividing government
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Give examples of ministers who have resigned due to the convention of individual ministerial responsibility
Clare Short over Iraq in 2003, Iain Duncan Smith over cuts to disability benefits
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What is individual ministerial responsibility?
The principle that each minister is responsible for the work of their department and is accountable for all its decisions so that when serious errors are made they may be expected to resign
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Does the minister have to be involved in the error made for them to have to resign?
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Give examples of resignation over individual ministerial responsibility
Chris Huhne, Piers Merchant, Jaqui Smith, David Laws over expenses
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Who was the MP involved in cash for questions?
Neil Hamilton
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Under the coalition, who did the PM have to check new appointments to the cabinet with?
Nick Clegg
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What are the sources of PM power?
Prerogative powers, being head of the governing party, leader of parliament, head of cabinet and tradition
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What are formal PM powers?
Powers that every PM has whatever the circumstances that have usually been delegated from the monarch
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What are informal PM powers?
Powers that vary according to each PM's circumstances
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Give examples of formal PM powers
To negotiate foreign treaties, to command the armed forces, to appoint or dismiss ministers, to determine structure of government, head of the civil service and to grant peerages and appoint people to important public posts
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Give examples of informal PM powers
Chief policy maker, represents the nation to foreign powers, controls the business of cabinet and can make emergency decisions
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What are the limits to PM power?
They must maintain the support of their party, dependent on the size of their majority, PM's who lose the support of the media and the public have their authority weakened, circumstances, united opposition from the cabinet and coalition partners
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Give an example of a PM who lost power due to lack of support from their party
Margaret Thatcher being voted out of office for an unpopular poll tax and Tony Blair forced to step down over Iraq
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Give an example of a PM lacking power due to a small majority
John Major loosing his large majority in 1992 and thus loosing authority
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Give an example of a PM who lost the support of the media and thus authority
Gordon Brown
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Give an example of a PM loosing power due to circumstances
Gordon Brown over the financial crisis
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Give an example of a party rebellion
The Terrorism Bill in Labour
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What ways does the PM control the cabinet?
Patronage, controls the agenda, sofa politics, core executive, reshuffles, core executive and reduction in length of the meetings
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What is sofa politics?
Where the PM has conversations and makes decisions with senior members of cabinet informally and without the rest of cabinet
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Give an example of an MP chosen for their merits on policy
Andrew Lansley
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Give an example of a big beast in the cabinet
Theresa May
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Give an example of an MP who was awarded with a cabinet position due to previous support
Oliver Letwin
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Give an example of the PM putting a rebel in the cabinet in order to silence them
Vince Cable
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Who utilized a politically balanced cabinet?
John Major
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What is a politically balanced cabinet?
A cabinet with representation from all aspects of the party
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How many liberal democrats were there in the 2010 coalition?
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What are the arguments as to why the PM is becoming presidential?
Government spokesperson in the media, marginalization of cabinet, growing influence of PM over cabinet, increase of SPADs, increase in patronage and increasing collective ministerial responsibility
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Give an example of a bi-lateral
Blair and Harman
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What is presidentialism?
The theory that the PM has effectively become a president even though they are not heads of state
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Card 2


What, in theory, is the PM in relation to his colleagues?


First among equals

Card 3


What is first among equals in Latin?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Why would the PM be first among equals?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What are the roles of the PM?


Preview of the front of card 5
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