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How did R.A.W. Rhodes describe the term "core executive"?

Refers to all those organisations and procedures which coordinate central government policies and act as final arbiters of conflict between different parts of the government machine.


Who is regarded as the first prime minister?

Robert Walpole (1841-46)


What is royal prerogative?

The powers once held by the monarch in common law. Through parliamentary statute as well as new emergence of new conventions, powers have been passed to prime minister


Examples of royal prerogatives?

- Control armed forces
- Declare war
- Make treaties
- Exercise patronage
- Control workings of civil service


How are the concepts of convention and prerogative powers linked?

It is by convention rather than statute that many prerogative powers have passed into the hands of the premier


What is the last source of prime ministerial power and what does this mean?

Leader of the majority party in HOC
-PM's power and authority rests upon the confidence of the commons


Why is there no list stating all of PM's powers?

Absence of codified constitution


What are the roles of a modern PM?

- Chief Executive
- Chief Legislator
- Chief Diplomat
- Public relations chief
- Party Chief


What do the PM's powers of patronage allow him to do?

- Appoint and dismiss ministers at cabinet level and below
- Appoint senior civil servants (inclu. senior diplomats, members of quangos and special advisers, heads of nationalised industries)
- Appoint bishops in the Church of England
- Create peers
- Appoint senior judges (prior to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005)
- Nominate individuals for honours list


What determines PM's power over cabinet?

- ability to promote or demote political allies and potential rival


What powers does the PM have over cabinet?

- Number, timing and duration of cabinet meetings
- Cabinet agendas and minutes
- Conduct of meetings and who will speak and when
- Structure and composition of cabinet committees
- Makeup and organisation of the government in a broader sense
- Appointments to and the operation of the higher levels of the civil service


What powers does the PM have over parliament?

- Control parliamentary timetable
- Impose government's agenda
- Control key appointments within the party as well as within government
- PM can rely on a degree of party loyalty


What power does the PM have over the agenda?

Responsible for the Queen's speech and measures outlined at the state opening of parliament


What powers does PM have on the world stage?

- make war
- Conclude treaties


How is the PM limited by cabinet?

- Seniority of colleagues within one's party might demand their inclusion in cabinet (Jack Straw 1997/ William Hague 2010)
-PM excluding or leaving out key figures can cause the figures to become key enemies (Michael Heseltine under Thatcher)
- Abuse in PM's powers can bring criticism (Mo Mowlam )
- Cabinet can resign


How is PM limited by parliament?

- Can cause embarrassment through PMQs, debates and motions
- Commons can force the government to back down (Brown's concessions over the removal of the 10% tax in 2008)


How is the PM limited by party?

- Failing backbench confidence (Thatcher led to Anthony Meyer's 'stalking horse' leadership challenge in 1989)
- Tony Blair and top-up fees caused him to pre-announce his departure from office


How is the PM limited by public opinion?

- Accountable through elections


How is the PM limited by their own abilities and circumstances?

- Size of commons majority
- Economic situation
= Unexpected events


Herbert Asquith famous quote

"the office of the PM is what its holder chooses and is able to make of it"


Harold Macmillan

"Events, dear boy. Events"


Cabinet originated in 1668 under Charles II reign



How many paid members in cabinet?



Who chairs cabinet committees?

PM or senior cabinet colleagues determined by the PM and the rest drawn from cabinet as appropriate


How many members are in the cabinet office and who does this include?

- 2,000 staff include CO minister, cabinet secretary, four secretariats- Economic, Domestic, Defence, European)


Primus Inter Pares

First Among Equals


What is cabinet and what does it exercise?

Collective decision making body which operates under a doctrine of collective responsibility


Cabinet and decision making

Bagehot described cabinet as "efficient secret" of British Government but now the increase of PM powers has meant that decisions made elsewhere and cabinet merely rubber stamps


Cabinet as a coordinating department

Individuals report on their activities and bring colleagues up to speed on what is still crucial


Cabinet and forward planning

Address problems arising form policy and or/ events and provide directions from where policy can be refocused


Changes to the operation of cabinet under Blair (1997)

- Full meetings shortened to single
- 45 minute sessions each week
Mo Mowlam said cabinet had been reduced to the status of a briefing room where colleagues were informed on policy
"Sofa government"


Why is there a decline in cabinet government?

- Increase scope and complexity of government activity
- Emergence as well as subsequent rise of cabinet committees
- Tendency towards use of bilateral meetings and less formal arrangements over full cabinet meetings
- Increase in authority and status afforded to the PM
- Behaviour of cabinet members


Kitchen Cabinet

PM works will a clique of key advisers and membership of this clique is fixed.


Departmentalised government

individual government departments have control over respective areas and ministers may act with a degree of autonomy


Differentiated/Segmented decisions

Degree of PM dominance varies in different policy areas and cabinet may be given high degree of autonomy in other areas


Prime Ministerial government

Richard Crossman and Tony Benn identified this and Lord Hailsham referred to as the "elective dictatorship" persists in the media.


What did Michael Foley observe in The Rise of the British Presidency (1993)?

The premiership which has become an increasingly conventional term, is itself replete with suggestions of a singular office in form and substance


What are the differences between PM and President?

US is codified so there is less room to manoeuvre for the president.


Who identified four characteristics which justify the notion that the UK is moving towards a presidential system?



(Foley) Spatial Leadership

Tendency of the prime minister to create visible distance between themselves and the machinery of the government


(Foley) Cult of Outsider

Tendency for PM to characterise themselves as outsiders fighting against formal structures and challenging business as usual


(Foley) Public Leadership

Pm have sought to appear directly to the public through mass media


(Foley) Personal Factor

Prime Ministers have become "expanded personalities" personifying "mass demands, common anxieties, social hopes and national ideals"


What do government departments consist of?

Number of ministers of varying rank, working alongside civil servants which is headed by a secretary of state


Collective responsibility

Demands that members of the cabinet publicly stand by those decisions made collectively within cabine, those who are not prepared to do so are expected to resign and argue their case from back bencher


Collective responsibility fail example

Robin Cook's Resignation over Iraq 2001


Individual Ministerial Responsibility

Holds ministers responsible for their own personal conduct and the conduct of their department and require them to resign if they fail in the two spheres


Individual responsibility example

Lord Carrington's resignation in the wake of the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands in 1981


Civil Service

Administrative or bureaucratic arm of the government whose members are technically servants of the crown


What two developments has affected the civil service?

- Hiving off many responsibilities to semi-autonomous agencies (Next step agencies)
- Rise of special advisers


Summarise the Fulton Report (1968)

- Civil service's amateurish approach however the Fulton report was never fully implemented


Summarise The Next Steps Programme (1988)

Resulted in the process of agencification and by 1990 all civil servants were employed by such agencies/


What was the impact of agencification?

Hiving off government services into semi autonomous agencies and it resulted in civil servants becoming publicly known and identified as being responsible for the execution of policy.
- Public servants may be forced to resign over policy failures
- This undermines traditional civil service principles of impartiality, anonymity and permanence as well doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility


How many agencies in 2005?

130 employing 75% of all civil servants e.g. Home office Works alongside HM prison service


What three principles interlock the civil service?

1- Impartiality
2- Anonymity
3- Pemanence


Impartiality in theory and practice

Theory- Civil Servants serve the crown and should not be asked to perform party political functions

Practice- Undermined due to the rise of special advisers by the politicisation of the service since 1979


Anonymity in theory and practice

Theory- Individual civil servants should not be identified due in part to ministerial responsibility

Practice- Undermined by public criticism of named servants over policy (Westland Affair 1986) and rise of agencies whereby civil servants and not ministers appear to be responsible for policy


Permanence in theory and practice

Theory- Civil servants should remain in office even following a change in government

practice- Many civil servants ar eon fixed term contracts


What could also be added as a principle?


Bound by Official Secrets Act however this has been undermined by leaks of information


Example of leaks in civil service

- Sarah Tisdall: 6 months imprisonment in 1983 for leaking details of the arrival of cruise missiles at Greenham Common

- Clive Ponting acquitted in 1985 of leaking details relating to sinking of the Argentine battleship the General Belgrano during Falkland war

- David Shayler sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment in 2002 for leaking info relating to MI5 operation


What are the key roles of the civil service?

- Research
- Policy advice
- Policy execution
- Departmental administration
- Ensuring continuity and a smooth transition between governments


Who outlined the four models of ministerial-civil servant relationship?

Kevin Theakston


Formal Constitutional model

Civil servants serve ministers provide information however preserve impartiality and anonymity and therefore, permanence


Adversarial model

Ministers and civil servants engaged in a struggle for power. The civil service has its own agenda and seeks to obstruct government


Village life in the Whitehall community model

Ministers within the department provide the vision and drive. Civil service fill in the detail based upon their knowledge and experience of what has worked in the past


Bureaucratic Expansionism

Civil Servants serve their own interests by creating bureaucratic empires that are financially inefficient and get in the way of clear and effective government.


Which labour minister in the 1970s felt that the civil service had its own agenda and sought to steer new and inexperienced ministers?

Tony Benn


Why might have Tony Benn felt that specific way about civil servants?

- They control info which they can hide from ministers
- Ministers have too many commitments
- Top Civil servants outweigh ministers 10:1
- Civil servants can network holding informal meetings


What programme showcases how much civil ministers rely on the civil service?

Yes Minister


What are special advisers?

Civil servants paid for by the taxpayer. They are not bound by the traditional civil servance principles
- Appointed by and tied to the government of the day


What are the two roles of special advisers?

- Make government less reliant on the work of the civil service
- Help the PM keep up to date


What are spin doctors/special advisers criticised about?

Serve a political party function whilst being paid by the tax payer


What three key figures were fired in 2002?

Jo Moore- Stephen Byers' media adviser who on 9/11 was said to have sent an email around the department suggesting that it was a good day to bury bad news

Martin Sixsmith- Civil Servant in charge of departmental communications

Stephen Byers- Secretary state for Transport