Flashcards in Prime Minister And Executive Deck (100):
What is the executive responsible for?
Formulating and Implementing Policy
A policy is a plan of action. It is the executive branches responsibility to develop detailed proposals for change. If a policy requires me primary or secondary legislation then the executive branch will need to carefully draft this and successfully steer it through Parliament.
Once the gov has the legal power it needs, it has the responsibility of actually executing these policies making sure that their desired refrosm actually take effect.
What is the PM responsible for?
Responsible for the success of the government as a whole.
What is the Prime Ministers Office?
- A number of different units that support the PM as they try to co-ordinate the work of the entire executive branch ensuring the
government delivers on it’ top priorities
- provides administration support, managing the vast volume of paper and information that it sent to the PM making sure they are briefed and prepared for cabinet and other meetings.
- gives policy advise and monitors the work of other departments ensuring they are each working towards the pms main goals
- handles media relations and ensuring that th media always has the governments view of events
- manages the link with the Parliamentary and national party hopefully making sure to get mps and members on side.
What is the Cabinet?
The main n collective decision making body of the government
What does constitutional theory say about policy decision?
- in constitutionally theory, policy decisions should be approved by the cabinet - rather than by the prime minster alone
- the cabinet usually meets once a week, and under the convention of collective responsibility , the policy decisions are binding on all government ministers
How has the increase in the size and role of the government effected the Cabinet?
Give an example.
- it became increasingly unrealistic to spect the full Cabnet to debate every policy matter
- pm crate specialist cabinet committees, and sub-committees, where relevant cabinet misters work together in smaller groups on specific policy areas
- if need be, disputes can be resolved in the a meeting of the full cabinet.
Example: in 2017 Theresa may had 4 main policy committees plus the parliamentary business and legislation committee (focused on timetabling government business in Parliament)
- there are then 10 more focused sub-committees which report up to the main policy committees.
may also Established a number of implementation task forces:
- first used by pm David cameron in 2015 to track the progress of key manifesto commitments that cut across various departments
- unlike cabinet committees, many of these task forces include several junior minsters
- The six task forces established focused on: housing, digital infrastructure, tackling modern slavery and People trafficking, employment and skills, and immigration.
What is the Cabinet Office?
- over 2000 civil servants support the work of the cabinet, cabinet committees and the prime minster, as head of the cabinet.
Administrative Support: - timetable meetings, writs agendas, articulates minutes, rites briefings, ensures all misters are prepared for Cabinet/committee meetings.
- Co-ordinates the development and implementation of policies that cut across multiple departments, resolve disputes between departments that gift arise from time to time
As of 2017, how many ministerial departments are there?
Greatly varying in size, with different number of minsters and vastly different number of civil servants to support them.
What is the Ministerial Hierarchy?
Ministers have different titles to reflect how senior they are Secretaries of State (most senior): overall responsibility for the department.
Minsters of State: Responsibility for more specific policy areas
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State: the most junior minsters; most likely promoted from the backbenchers
Parliamentary Private Secretaries: Unpaid advisors who are nonetheless considered part of the ‘payroll vote’ and are expected to vote with the government. They are not part of the government.
Why are civil servants important
- newly appointed minsters may have big ideas, but to turn these ideas into details policy proposals, ad then actually execute and deliver these reforms, requires a huge amount of support
- as a result, each department is staffed with large number of civil servants, who advise misters and help implement their decisions.
What is the Civil Service?
- civil servants are employed by the crown not the government (also employed by a government department)
- crown employees who provide administrative and professional support to the government
- they advise ministers as they develop policies in departments
- work in the various government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies (e.g implementing policies)
- co-ordinated and managed by the PM, who by convention is also the Minister for the Civil Service
- the most senior civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary, who runs the Cabinet Office, and acts as senior advisor to the pm and cabinet
- they are not politicians as they are not elected and not accountable, and so cannot be involved in party politics, but they do have influence. They are permanent and are expected to serve minister of any party quality faithfully.
What are the key principles of the Civil Service?
1. They are permanent - they aren’t all sacked and rebalanced after an election
- however promotions may lead them to work in different departments over the course of their career
- they can remain in government
- new ministers are already staffed with civil servants who had worked for their predecessor and possibly a different government
2. They must be neutral/impartial
- they must treat and serve each government equally as well
-Regardless of the party in government, civil servants must impartially implement their policy programme
- they should offer impartial advice based on their expertise and experience
- once Ministers have made a decision, they should do their best to implement that policy regardless of how they personally view it’s merit.
- to encourage civil servants to give honest advice, they are kept largely anonymous
- individual civil servants should not usually be identified as the authors of advice given to ministers
4. Accountable to Ministers
- accountable to the minster leading their department
5. Appointed on Merit
- the most qualified and suitable candidate should always be chosen following an open competition.
What are Special Advisors?
- each cabinet minster is usually allowed to appoint up to 2 special advisors (SPADS)
- Unlike parliament, impartial civil servants, special advisors are temporary and partisan advisors, loyal to the party in government.
- they are likely to have an exiting close relationship with the minister they are working for
- free to give political advice and influence political matters that it wold be inappropriate for civil servants to be involved with
whereas a civil servant might provide ministers with impartial facts and figures for a speech, a special advisor might provide the minster with more political content
Who is in charge of the implementation of policy?
- is now largely done by a range of business like agencies and other public bodies
- they are kept at arms length from minsters, protecting them from interference.
Example: The Department of Education works with 17 agencies and pubic bodies e.g executive agencies, non departmental public bodies (established by departments but are legally separate - Staff are not civil servants) and non-ministerial department s.
How many Minsters ere there in 2017?
118 Ministers =
- 1 PM
- 22 Cabinet Ministers
- 95 Other Ministers
Around 420,000 Civil Servants
Around 80-90 special advisors.
Who is in control of the executive?
- The UK is unusual in that many of the organs of the executive are described as being under the control of the monarch, for example ‘Her Majesty’s minsters’ or ‘Her Majesty’s Treasury’.
- However, this is an illusion.
- In practice the PM is under control of the prime minster (using his or her prerogative powers) under the cabinet.
- The Civil Service - the unelected permanent officials who serve the government - is expected to act in a neutral fashion, standing outside the party battle, and is forbidden from serving the political interests of the government, but it, too, is technically within the control of the PM, who is officially ‘head of the civil service’.
What is the Role and Supporting elements of the following?
- The Prime Minister
- Government departments
- Role: Chief Policy maker and chief executive
- Supporting elements: Cabinet, Cabinet Secretary, Private Office of Civil Servants , Policy Unit
- Role: Approving policy and settling disputes within government
- Supporting elements: Cabinet committees, Cabinet Office, Cabinet Secretary.
- Role: Managing the Governments finances
- Supporting elements: Senior Civil Servants, Special advisors, Think tanks.
- Role: Developing and implementing specialised policies
- Supporting elements: Civil Servants, Special Advisers, Think tanks.
What is the Royal Prerogative?
The arbitrary powers formerly enjoyed by the monarchy, but gradually transferred to the government and then to the prime minister during the the 18th and 19th century. The powers include patronage, conducting foreign policy, negotiating foreign treaties and conducting military affairs (as commander in chief).
What is the main role and power of the prime minster?
- complete power to appoint or dismiss all government minster, whether in the cabinet or outside the cabinet.
- the pm also has a say in other public appointments, including the most senior civi servants, including the most senior civil servants
- power to negotiate treaties, including arrangements with other states or international organisations.
- commander in chief or the armed forces and can commit them to action (however this this power has come under challenge in recent times)
- it is now accepted that the PM should only make major military commitments on the advice and with the sanction of Parliament.
- nevertheless, once armed forces have been committed to action, the pm has general control of their actions.
- conducts foreign policy and determines relationships with foreign ports. In this sense the PM represents the country internationally.
- heads the Cabinet system, chooses its members, sets its agenda and determines what cabinet committees should exist and who sits on them.
- it is generally true that the pm sets the general tone of the economic policy. Usually this is done alongside the chancellor of the exchequer, ho is normally a very close colleague.
What is Cabinet Government?
A term used to describe a situation where the main decision making of government takes place in the cabinet.
In modern history this is not normally the case. Its main alternative is the expression ‘prime ministerial government’.
-The UK used to to be commonly described as ‘cabinet government’.
- this is not to say that this is where all important decisions are made. It is not. Rather, it means that all official governments decisions and policies
- must be cleared by the cabinet if thy are considered legitimate.
- in that sense the cabinet holds a similar position to the UK parliament
- in order to be implemented and enforced, all laws must be approved by parliament.
- in the case of policies and government emissions (which often lead to law making), they must must be approved by the cabinet if they are to be considered official policy.
- in the case of both, parliament and cabinet approval may ell be brief and may require little meaningful debate, but such formal approval is essential.
- occasionally, of course, conflict and real disagreement may occur in both Parliament and cabinet, but often such approval is merely ritualised.
- Cabinet is therefore described as a mere ‘rubber stamp’
What are some features of the Cabinet?
- consists of between 20 and 25 senior government minsters - the precise number of members is in the hands of the PM.
- PM controls much of the work and nature of the cabinet. It is one of ire key roles.
- PM personally appoints all cabinet members and may dismiss them. He or she is not required to consult anyone else when making appointments or dismissals.
- most of the members are senior ministers in charge of large government department.
- a few may not have specific ministerial responsibilities but are considered important enough
- members of the party to sit at the centre of power.
- all cabinet members must be members of either the H of C or H of L (in practice most are MPs)
- several other minsters are also invited to attend cabinet meetings and take part in discussions but are not cabinet minsters.
- when final decisions are being mad, their vie will not be invited. One of them will always be the chief whip of the governing party.
- individuals may also be novice to address the cabinet if hey have special knowledge or important views but they will not take part in full discussions.
- one civil servant always attends to record minutes (what is agreed). This is the Cabinet Secretary, the UK most senior civil servant. He or she is key adviser to the cabinet and to the prime minster personally.
- only members of he governing party are cabinet members. The only exception is with Coalition government, which occurred in 2010-15. In that case, there ere both conservative and Liberal Democrat Members.
- cabinet meets once a week, usually on Thursday, and a meeting last rarely more than 2 hours.
-additional emergency cabinet meetings may also be called.
- the prime minster chairs the meetings unless abroad or indisposed ,in which case his or her deputy may take cover, though when this occurs cabinet may not meet at all.
- the proceedings of the cabinet are secret and will not be revealed for at least 30 years.
- cabinet does not usually vote on issues. The PM always seeks a general consensus and then requires all members to agree to that consensus decision. Any member who is he’s to dissent publicly will normally be required to resign and leave the cabinet.
- The PM sets the final agenda
- The PM approves the minutes made by the cabinet secretary. These are a record of the formal decisions made and key points raised for consideration.
- cabinet decisions are released to a strictly limited number of civil servants and minsters. Media releases will also be sent out, but with no details of the discussions.
- cabinet members receive an enhanced salary , well above that of junior (non-cabinet) minsters and MPS.
- members of the cabinet are bound by the convention of collective responsibility.
Why is the idea that cabinet is at the centre of government sometimes confusing?
It is often said that the cabinet is at the ‘centre’ of the government, this does not mean it is where most decision are made.
Most decisions are made elsewhere, so be carful not to confuse these two realities.
What is the Role of the Cabinet?
- the role of the cabinet is both changeable and unclear.
- like the role of the prime minster, it’s existence is merely an unwritten constitutional convention.
- to some extent, what it does may vary from one PM to another.
- it may also depend on political circumstances.
- e.g when the UK was led by a coalition gov from 2010-15, the cabinet had a much wider role than usual.
- e.g following the 2016 decision to leave the EU, the cabinet had the additional role of overseeing the exit negotiations.
- some pms may use the cabinet as an important sounding board for ideas and policy initiatives (john mayor and David cameron, for example used it in this way)
- others pms, most notably Tony Blair and Margaret thatcher, had little time for cabinet discussion and tended to use it simply to legitimise decisions made elsewhere.
- Margaret thatcher (1979-90),indeed, was notorious for downgrading cabinet to a rubber stamp for her own ideas. One of her minsters, Nicholas Ridley, expressed her style thus, stating “ she knew what she wanted to do and was not going to have faint arts in the cabinet stopping her”
It does have a number of functions which are common to all administration in the UK:
- in some emergency or crisis situations, the prime minster may revert to the collective wisdom of the cabinet to make decisions. They may take a leading roe in the discussion but will also invite comments from their close colleagues.
- military sitting are the most common example, such as the UK intervention in the Syrian Civil at and in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- even determined pm will normally inform the cabinet of their intentions, as Tony Blair Dad before joining the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Margaret’s Thatcher before sending a task force to liberate the Falklands Islands in 1982. The fact that the cabinet meetings are held in secret helps when military and security matters are at stake.
- cabinet will discuss and set the way in which policy is to be presented, to parliament, to the government own MPS and peers, and to the media .
It helps to present a united front when all minsters describe
and justify decisions in the same manner.
- occasionally disputes can arise between minsters, very often over how government expenditure is to be shared out. Normally, the prime minster and cabinet secretary will try to solve such disputes, but when this is not possible, cabinet acts as the final ‘court of appeal’ .
- most government business must pass through Parliament, often in the form of legislation. The cabinet will settle the government’s agenda to deal with this.
- it is decided what business will be brought before Parliament in the immediate future, which minsters will contribute to debates and what tactics to adopt if votes in either house are likely to be close. The chief whips presence is vital on these occasions.
- in spite of the need to carry out these functions form time to time, most of the cabinet time is taken up with ratifying decisions reached elsewhere.
- minsters are informed in advance of such purposes. Their civil servants prepare brief summaries of what is being proposed and any likely problems that might arise.
- if minsters decide they have some misgivings about proposals, they normally raise them with with the pm or cabinet secretary before the meeting, not during it.
- despite what the popular press claims, ‘ cabinet rows’ are rare. Any negotiations that need to be done ill be normally settled outside the cabinet room.
- so the cabinet is a kind of ‘clearing house’ for decisions. Little discussion is needed.
- the pm will check that everyone can support a decision and it invariably goes through ‘on the nod’.
What is the Cabinet System ?
- most decision are made upside the cabinet and they only need to be formally approved in a full cabinet meeting.
- it is better to think of a ‘cabinet system’ rather than simply the cabinet
The decisions originate from a variety of sources:
- The PM - together with their advisers, policy units, close ministerial allies and senior civil servants - will develop proposals of their own.
- It is extremely rare for the cabinet to question seriously a prime ministerial initiative.
- when ministers intend to oppose the prime minster, they usually resign, an event which is invariably highly dramatic.
- perhaps the most remarkable example was when Sir Geoffrey Howe reigned from Margaret Thatchers Cabinet in 1989 , largely over her European policies. Howes resignation and farewell speech in the commons helped to bring thatcher down the following year. Tony Blair lost to cabinet colleagues over his Iraq policy in 2003, robin cook and Clare short. But such events are rare.
- most detailed is worked out in small committees consisting of cabinet members and other junior ministers.
- most of the cabinet committees are chaired by the pm or a very senior minister, such as the chancellor.
- the Committee present their proposals to full cabinet and they are usually accepted ( though they may be sometime be referred back to the committee for amendments and improvements)
The chancellor of the exchequer;
- almost always supported by the prime minster, economic and financial policy is presented to the cabinet by the chancellor, often as a fait accompli.
- need the annual statement (in November) and the budget (in March) are usually only revealed to the cabinet on the eve of their presentation in parliament.
- the budget must be passed by Parliament in the months following its presentation. This is largely a formal process but occasionally there has been a dimension. E.g In march 2017, Philip Hammonds proposals to increase national insurance for the self-employed was resisted by all opposition parties plus a number of Conservative rebels , so the measure was quickly dropped . Hammond was announced budget statement will be moved to 2018 onwards.
- policies involving a government department specifically, but which require wider approval, are presented to cabinet by the relevant minister, aided by their civil servant. It is here that dissent is most likely - though if a minster is backed by the prime minster, they are in a good position to secure approval.
Groups of Ministers:
- policies are often developed by various professional advisers, policy units and Think tanks. These may be adopted by various minsters who then bring the ideas to cabinet, usually after securing the approval of the pm and chancellor.
- if other ministers have problems with such proposals, they are usually voiced well in advance.
- the variety of sources of sources of policy coming into cabinet helps the prime minster to control government in general.
- pm see all all proposals in advance and have the opportunity to block policies of which they do not approve.
- they also control the cabinet agenda so they can simply avoid discussion of ides they do not like. Most pms, most of the time, can manage the cabinet system to promote their own policies and block those they wish to oppose.
Who has more power?
Powers of the prime minister:
- pm is perceived by the public to be the government leader and representative of the nation. This gives them great authority
- patronage means the pm has power over ministers and can demand loyalty.
- the pm now as a wide range of individuals or bodies to call on personally for advice.
- the pm chairs cabinet and controls its agenda, which means they cn control the governing process.
- the pm enjoys prerogative powers and so can bypass cabinet on some issues.
The powers of the Cabinet:
- if the cabinet is determined, a majority of members can overrule the prime minster.
- ultimately the cabinet can remove the prime minister from office, as happened to Margaret thatcher (1990) and Tony Blair (2007)
- cabinet may control powerful ministers with a large following who can thwart the will of the prime minster. Tony Blair was rivalled by Gordon Brown in 2005-07 and David Cameron was by several influential Eurosceptics in 2010-15.
- if the pm has a divided party, it is more difficult to control cabinet. This happened to john major in 1992-97.
What is secondary legislation?
This includes detailed las and regulations passed by minsters under powers granted to them by primary legislation.
Most secondary legislation does not concern parliament, though parliament reserves the right to debate and vote on such legislation if it is controversial.
What are the functions of government ?
- to develop policy, guided by the policies of the ruling party and its leaders.
- to draft legislation needed to implement policy. This includes major primary legislation and more detailed secondary legislation which sets out the specific regulations and principles governing the operations of the state.
- to manage the passage of legislation.
- to negotiate with and regulate relation with external organisations and states
- to manage the operations of the state including education, health, welfare state, armed forces, the la enforcement establishment etc.
Also have to distinguish the difference between the ‘political aspects of government and the administrative aspects:
- the political aspects concern the development of policy. Although advice from unelected advisors may be taken, the final decision are made by minsters as they alone are publicly accountable.
- the ‘administrative’ side, including the implementation of policy and organisation of the state, can be undertaken by unelected officials. Even so, minsters remain accountable for the quality of administration.
What is collective responsibility?
- decisions are taken collectively by the government. This means that all minsters (whether in the cabinet or not) are collectively responsible for all government policies and decisions.
- even though most policy is created by the most senior members of the government, there is a convention that all minsters will defend and publicly support all official party.
- it is part of the ‘deal’ when they take office. This is known as the doctrine of collective ministerial responsibility. It has five principles:
- ministers are collectively responsible for all government policies
- all ministers publicly support all government policies, even if they disagree privately with them.
- if a minister wishes t dissent publicly from a government policy, he or she is expected to resign first.
- if a Ministers dissents without resigning, he or she can expect to be dismissed by the prime minister.
- as cabinet meetings are secret, any dissent within government is concealed.
Why is Collective responsibility important?
- a great support to prime ministerial power and this is perhaps its main significance.
- a pms authority is greatly enhanced by the fact that thy will not experience open dissent from within the government.
- it is also important that the Government presents a united front to the outside world, including parliament and the media.
- specifically, the Gov meant knows it can rely upon the votes of all ministers in any close division in the commons. This is known as the payroll vote.
- it can also be said that collective responsibility reduces the possibility of open dissent.
- critics will say that it ‘gags’ minsters and prevents them expressing their own opinions.
- supporters of the principle, on the other hand, say that the secrecy of the system means that minsters ca express their views honestly within Cabinet knowing that their disagreement is unlikely to be publicised.
What are the 2 key exceptions to collective responsibility?
Coalition government (2010-15):
- it would have been impossible for ministers from two very different parties to agree on every policy.
- nobody would have believed them has they made such a claim.
- a social arrangement as therefore made.
- the coalition arrived at a Coalition Agreement, which included all the policies the two party leaderships decided should be common to both sets of ministers.
- collective responsibility applied to the coalition agreement, but some areas of policy were not included.
- for example, the renewal of the trident nuclear submarine missile system was excluded.
- Coalition ministers were allowed to disagree publicly on the issue. The same exception was applied to the question of the the intervention in the Syrian civil war.
EU referendum June 2016:
- during the campaign, Conservative ministers were free to express views counter to the official government position - that the UK should remain in the EU.
- Several cabinet ministers, including former justice secretary, Michael Gove, and former leader of the House of Commons, Chris Gayling, openly campaigned against the official government line.
- a similar arrangement had been made the last time there was a referendum on UK membership of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1975.
What are the positive and negative aspects of collective responsibility?
- it creates a government which is united, strong and decisive.
- the public, parliament and the media are presented with a clear, single version of government policy.
- though Ministers cannot dissent publicly, the confidentiality of the cabinet means that minsters can engage in frank discussion in private.
- some argue it puts too much power into the hands of the prime minister.
- it means that Ministers cannot be openly honest about their views on polices. This may stifle debate within government.
- resignations under the doctrine are dramatic events which may seriously undermine government.
Note: The accountably of Ministers is a key aspect of how democracy operates in the setting of UK parliamentary politics.
You should therefore consider individual ministerial rejposnbiltiy in the light of Parliament role of calling government to account.
What is Individual Ministerial Responsibility?
- each minister is individually responsible for matters that affect his or her department separately.
- ministers are also individually responsible for their own performance as a minister and their conduct as an individual.
- individual ministerial responsibility used to be a significant astute of governing in the UK but in recent year it has declined in importance.
The features of the principle are these:
- Ministers must be prepare to be accountable to Parliament for the policies and decisions made by their department. This means answering questions in the House, facing interrogation by select committees and justifying their actions in debate.
- If a minister makes a serious error of judgement, he or she should be required to resign.
- If a serious error is made by the ministers department, whether or not the minister was involved in the cause of the error, the minster is honor -bound to resign.
- if the conduct of a minster falls below the standards required of someone in public office, he or she should leave office and may face dismal by the prime minister.
What argument is there, that individual ministerial responsibility has eroded?
-The first principle - that minster must offer themselves to be accountable to Parliament - certainly operates successfully and is a key principle of UK government.
-the second and third principles, however have largely fallen into disuse.
- there is no specific way in which parliament can remove an individual minster.
- Parliament and its select committees can criticise a instep and call for their resignation, but whether or not they go is entirely in the hands of the prime minister.
- there was a time, long ago, when Minister did resign as a matter of principle when a serious mistake was made, but those days have largely passed.
- the last time a minster resigned as a result of errors made was hen the education secretary, Estelle Morris, left her post voluntarily.
- in her resignation letter to Tonya Blair she said “ with some of the recent situations I have been involved in, I have not felt I have been as effective as I should be, or as effective as you need me to be’
- this was a rare event indeed. Before and since, many minsters have experienced widespread criticism and have apologised for errors made, but have not resigned or been dismissed.
-this erosion of the principle does not, however tend to the fourth type of responsibility - that which concerns personal conduct.
- here, when ministers have fallen short of the public standards, they have been quick to resign or been required to resign by the prime minister
- E.g 2011 Liam Fox (Defence Secretary) - Employing a personal friend as adviser at public expense.
- e.g Andre Mitchell (Chief Whip) - Allegedly insulting a police officer in Downing Street, using abusive language.
What is traditional authority?
- This refers to authority which is considered legitimate because it has existed for a long historical period.
- The authority of the UK pm is traditionally caus he or sh inherits the traditional authority of the monarch.
What is the Source of authority of the prime minster?
- the monarch is no longer a political figure but in theory has considerable powers, known as prerogative powers (also known as the royal prerogative).
- as the monarch cannot exercise these powers, she defeats them to a prime minister .
- the new pm does inherit the traditional authority of the monarch. The monarch approval, though merely formal, does grant the prime minister authority.
- the pm is always the leader of the largest party represented in the h of c following a general election.
- in this case, the pm authority comes from the people through the leading party. If and when a party changes its leader, the new leader will automatically become pm (the queen, or monarch, will summon that leader to the palace to confirm this). No election is necessary.
- this dos occur from time to time, usually when the existing leader loses the confidence of their party.
- e.g in 1990, the Conservative party replace Margaret thatcher with john major and in 2007 the Labour Party relaxed Tony Blair with Gordon Brown and more recently, Theresa May replaced David Cameroon after he resigned in 2016.
- each new parliament, including the losing parties, recognise the authority of the prime minister to lead the government.
- there is no formal procedure to confirm this as there is in many other political system; it is simply ‘what happens’
- Parliament has no formal procedure for replacing one pm with another . All it can do is to dismiss the whole government through a vote of no confidence.
- the prime minster is not directly elected, as we have seen.
- during a GE campaign, the people are being asked to choose between alternative candidates for the position of PM as well as for a party.
- we can therefore say that a prime minster does enjoy a degree of authority directly from the people.
- this causes a problem for prime ministers who rise to their position without a general election taking place.
As a result of this considerable authority, the UK prime minster is also able to exercise a great deal of personal power
What is the source of power of the prime minster?
The UK pm has impressive sources of authority and this translates into considerable proper.
- the traditional authority of The major changes has long been delegated to the PM. The throw is often described as the royal prerogative
- when transferred to the prime minster, it becomes prerogative powers.
- these prowlers are not constrained and so can be freely exercised by the pm personally.
- when exercising these powers the pm is representing the whole nation, which means the pm is effectively the temporary head of state.
- the pm is the leader of the largest party in the h of c
- there have ben examples of a pm who was not leader of the largest party, but we have to go back to the 1930s to find one (Labours Ramsay MacDonald).
- being party leader enables the pm to have the power to take the lead in policy making.
-For as long,as the pm carry their party with them, they therefore becom Chief Policy maker.
- patronage refers to the power an individual may enjoy to make important appointments to public offices.
- having his ability grants power because it means that those who aspire to high office will tend to be loyal to the person who may appoint them.
- once appointed, that loyalty remains, not least because disloyalty may end in dismal.
- the pm enjoys patronage over hundreds of appointments including government minsters, peers and the heads of various state bodies.
- it means that the majority of mps and peers in the pms party will tend to be loyal. This gives the pm great power.
- the pm is the leader of their party in Parliament.
- clearly the larger government parliamentary majority, the more power the pm derives from this fact, but all prime minsters gain some power fro it.
- if a government is unable to secure the passage of it’s legislation and financial plans through the house of c, it will lose power .
- mps are always are of this and so those who represent the governing party tend to support their prime minsters most of the time to ensure the survival of their government.
- an illustration of this occurred in 1995.
- conservative pm john major, became concerned and angered by the disloyalty of a number of his own backbench MPs.
- he therefore resigned (as party leader but not as prime minster). In the subsequent leadership election he was re-elected his was. This was a great boost to both his authority and his power. He had r-asserted his control over parliament.
Collective cabinet responsibility:
- the pm is the senior member of the cabinet.
- this is not surprising as the pm has control over the cabinets membership and its agenda.
- these are prerogative powers as described above.
- it has become a convention of the UK constitution that all members of the cabinet should be collectively responsible for all the decisions that the government makes.
- under normal circumstances no individual member of the cabinet may publicly disagree with any government decision or policy (they may disagree privately)
- if they do, they face dismissal or must resign in order to have an independent voice.
- this endows the prime minister with great power as their central government body presents a united front.
- with no public opposition from colleagues, the prime minister gains considerable power.
What are the formal and informal powers of the prime minsters?
- every pm has a different personality, different abilities and their own distinctive style.
- it is therefore worth looking at the distinctions between the powers that all prime minsters enjoy and those that vary greatly according to circumstance.
- Chairmanship of Cabinet
- Foreign policy leader
- Commander in Chief (now in a state of change)
- Calling elections as long as parliament agrees
- Ability to call an early general election if parliament approves with a two thirds majority or passes a vote of no confidence.
Informal powers (powers that vary from one individual to another):
- Controlling government policy
- Controlling the legislative agenda
- Economic leadership
- National leadership in times of crisis
- Foreign Policy Leader
What is the Commander in Chief?
What evidence is there, that this power for the PM is in a state of decline?
Commander in Chief: This describes the person who has ultimate control over the deployment of the armed forces including the the security and intelligence services.in the UK the PM holds this position, Delegated by the monarch.
- until the 21st century, it was generally accepted that the pm had the sole power to commit UK armed forces to action.
- While the pm might consult with their cabinet and invite a parliamentary debate, it was acknowledged that the final decision belonged to the pm
Some examples of this prerogative power being exercised:
- 1982: Margaret Thatcher sent a task force to ‘liberate’ the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic from Argentine occupation.
- 2003: Tony Blair committed UK forces to assist the USA in the invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein.
- 2011 - David Cameron committed the Royal Air Force to air strikes in the Libyan Civil War to save the ‘democratic’ rebels.
- This role as commander in chief seemed to Chang abruptly in 2013.
- it as revealed that the Syrian Government was using chemical weapons against civilian populations in the civil war there.
- in response pm David cameron Stated his desire to intervene, using UK air power
- on this occasion, he sought the approval of Parliament.
- he did not need this approval constitutionally, but he felt it was politically important (it would legitimatise his decisions)
- to Cameron’s surprise, the h of c voted against such action.
- he respected the decision and cancelled any proposed intervention.
- it appeared that centuries of the prerogative power to command the armed forces had been set aside.
- parliament seemed to be taking over military policy.
- 2 years later, in December 2015, Cameron again asked parliament for approval for air strikes in Syria, this time against ISIS/Daesh.
- Parliament gave its approval and the strikes began.
- however, the fact that cameron felt the need to consult MPs demonstrated the vulnerability of his position as commander in chief.
What are the powers of the UK Cabinet?
The Cabinet has a number of important roles but surprisingly perhaps, it has relatively few powers of its own. This largely because the pm has his or her on rival powers. They do have some powers:
- It is the cabinet that legitimises the government policy and interprets what government policy actually is. The pm will have a say in this, but ultimately it is a cabinet power to organise the presentation of official policy.
- again, though the pm has influence, it is a specific power of the cabinet to determined the government legislative agenda - what policies are to be implemented first and which can wait.
- the cabinet dos to have absolutely power to remove a Pm. There is no such thing as a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the cabinet.
- cabinet can effectively drive a pm out of power by refusing to support them in pubic.
- the removal of a pm has town main procedures: either forcing the pm to resign through public criticism (as happened to Tony Blair in 2007) or provoking a leadership contest in the governing party which the pm may lose (as happened to Margaret thatcher in 1990)
- the cabinet does have the power to overrule a prime minster if it can summon up enough political will and sufficient support for an alternative policy.
- in 2015, for example, pm David cameron as forced by his cabinet to suspend collective responsibility in the Eu referendum campaign to allo minsters to express their own personal views.
Apart from those described above, the cabinet does not really have any powers of its own. Government power is effectively shared between the prime Minster and cabinet.
Explain how the 2010-15 Coalition government changed the relationship between prime minster and the cabinet?
After no party won a majority in the 2010 General Election, a Coalition was quickly agreed between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat’s leadership.
The arrangements for coalition were as follows:
- As Leader of the larger of the coalition partners, David cameron was to be prime minster. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat’s, was to be deputy prime minster
- A period of negotiations followed during which an agreed set of ponies was developed - the Coalition Agreement.
- Cabinet palaces were appointed to the two parties in the ratio 22:5 Cons to Libs
- Lib Dem’s were given 5 specific ministerial positions. Non cabinet positions were appointed on a similar basis.
- David cameron would control appointments or dismal to the 22 Conservatives posts and Nick Glegg controlled the first 5 Lib Dem’s.
- Collective Responsibility applied to all policies included in the coalition agreement.
- on other policies, ministers from the 2 parties were permitted to disagree publicly.
Ironically, the coalition proved to be something of a brief ‘golden ag’ for the cabinet.
Suddenly after years of becoming less and less significant, being increasingly marginalised within government and ignored by prime minsters, the cabinet as important again.
This was largely because the cabinet now had roles it had never had before:
- Disputes within the coalition were inevitable. The cabinet was one of the key places where these could be resolved.
- Presentation of policy became difficult, so the cabinet had to develop ways in which agreements between the parties could be explained.
- if there was a dispute as to whether a policy had in fact been agreed between the coalition partners (and would therefore be subject to collective responsibility), cabinet would be called on to clarify the issue .
- David Cameron did work with a kind of ‘inner cabinet’: A small group of very senior minsters, including the prime minster, who dominated the development of government policy
- this including the pm David cameron, the deputy pm nick Glegg, chancellor George Osborne, and Danny Alexander, osbourne Liberal Democrat deputy.
- they were collectively known as the Quad. Cabinet is too big to serve the prime minster constantly, so inner groups of seniors ministers are common.
Eventually as the 2015 General Election approached, the Coalition cabinet weakened and began to fragment. However the government did, against many predictions, last for 5 years and it a temporary restoration of cabinet government that helped to maintain stability.
What is a reshuffle?
A reshuffle occurs when a PM changes the make up of their government.
A major reshuffle is when a number of cabinet members are dismissed, appointed or have their jobs changed.
How does the Prim Minister Select their Cabinet?
Selecting the members of a cabinet is one of the key roles played by a pm.
If they get this wrong, they will suffer difficulties ranging from poor policy making to constant threats to their own positions.
- pack the cabinet wit the prime minsters own allies.
- this ensures unity and bolsters the pm power, but it may lack critical voices who can improve decision making.
- after 1982 this was the tactic adopted by Margaret thatcher (1979-90), an especially dominant prime minster with a great singularity purpose.
- Tony bLAIR (1997-2007) adopted a similar approach.
- pick a balanced cabinet that reflects the different policy tendencies in the ruling party.
- when Theresa may became pm in 2016 she chose such a cabinet, which included some of her former adversaries such as Boris Johnson, David Davis, Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox.
- It was especially important for her to include members who were both in favour and against leaving the EU.
- she did though, keep some key allies close to her, including chancellor Phillip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
- john mayor (1990-97) was forced into choosing a similarity varied cabinet.
3. BEST PEOPLE
- to pick a cabinet of the best possible people.
- such a cabinet has not been seen since the 1960s and 70s when Harold Wilson (1964-70, 1974-76) and James Callaghan (1976 -79) assembled a group ‘of all the talents’
Prime Ministers have complete patronage powers so they can reshuffle their cairns at will.
Some prime minsters have changed the personnel in this way annually.
Dismissing and appointing new minsters is a device prime ministers can use for asserting and re-asserting their authority, as well as ensuring th quality of government.
How has the relationship between Prime Minister and Cabinet changed since the 1960s?
- PM seen as ‘first among equals’ in other words the dominant member of cabinet but not able to command government completely.
- pms were are that they had to carry their cabinets with them and so had to allow genuine debate among minsters. This is often described as ‘cabinet government’
- this period is often described as one of ‘prime ministerial government.
- pm were expected to dominate government completely.
- there had to be a cabinet and decision had to be legitimatised by the cabinet, but it was not expected that the cabinet would act as a collective body, but rather that it should collectively support the pm.
- successive pm found as of dominating the cabinet or simply sidelining it so that it was relatively insignificant.
- this is not to say that individuals ministers could not be Portland, but that the cabinet as a body was not powerful.
- former labour cabinet member, Mo Mowlem, summed this up in 2001 hen describing how PM Blair managed the cabinet. (Guardian 2001) - Stated that Blair makes decisions with a small coterie of people.
Three styles of prime ministerial domination stood out in this period:
- Harold Wilson (1964-70, 1974-76): Manipulated cabinet by controlling he agenda and discussions, and by reaching agreements with minsters outside the meetings.
- Margaret Thatcher (1979-90): Dominated the cabinet through the force of her will and by ruthlessly removing or marginalising her opponents.
- Tony Blair (1997-2007): Marginalised Cabinet. He adopt a style known as ‘sofa politics’ hereby h would develop ideas with a fe advisors and senior minsters outside the cabinet in informal discussions and the present the cabinet with a fait accompli ( a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept it)
- the 2010-15 coalition cabinet restored much of the importance of cabinet.
- since 2010, the cabinet has become more significant.
- lacking a decisive majority, the pm has had to seek consensus within government, so ‘prime ministerial government’ is at an end for the time being.
- in 2016-17 Theresa May attempted to dominate the government machinery despite her small parliamentary majority but, having failed to retain that majority in June 2017 election, it was clear that she would have to govern with the the full co-operation of her cabinet.
What is Sofa Politics?
A style of governing, attributed to Tony Blair, but common to other prime minsters such as Gordon Brown.
It refers to the practice of conducting informal meetings with colleague s outside cabinet, often with private advisers in attendance, so as to control policy making.
In theory, ho can the Prime Minister control Cabinet?
- the use of personage means the pm can promote supporters into cabinet, remove opponents and so demand loyalty.
- the pm has a large machinery of policy-making support within Downing Street, which they can use to support their own position against isolated ministers.
- the pm controls the cabinet agenda .
Nevertheless, the degree to which a pm can successfully use these powers can vary greatly according to circumstances.
Evaluate the powers of the Prime Minister stating the permanent limitations (apply to all PMs) short term favourable and unfavourable circumstances.
- permanent limitations: is forced to promote senior party members who may be rivals.
- short term favourable: large parliamentary majority.
-short term unfavourable: small or no majority in commons
Power: Foreign Policy leader.
- permanent limitations: must consult parliament.
- short term favourable: events may prove to be advantageous.
- short term unfavourable: events may prove to be disadvantageous.
Power: Party leader
- permanent limitations: can be removed if the pm loses party confidence
- short term favourable: a healthy, growing economy
- short term unfavourable: Economic recession.
- permanent limitations: may not be able to rely on the parliamentary majority.
- short term favourable: good media image and personal popularity.
- short term unfavourable: poor media and public image.
Power: Chair of Cabinet
- permanent limitations: the pm can be removed by a majority in cabinet
- short term favourable: the pm may lead an ideologically untied Cabinet
- short term unfavourable: the pms party may become ideologically divided.
What external factors are there, that determine how much Power the Prime Minister can exercise?
-as it develops further, gradually erodes the power of both the pm and the UK government as a whole.
- when Scotland and wales develop legislative powers there will be large parts of the country outside central control.
- while the UK was a member of the EU, the powers of UK government were limited as large areas of policy were in the hands of the Council of European Ministers.
- when the UK leaves the EU, however these powers will be repatriated, offering a considerable boost to the pm and cabinet ability to shape policy and determine the course of events.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO):
- The UK membership to NATO, and especially the country’s close relationship with the USA, limit the UK foreign policy options.
- pm and cabinet must take into account the country’s main allies when conducting foreign policy.
- the UK involvement in Middle East affairs is an an especially important example.
Weak or Dominant:
- back at home, the extent to which the cabinet can shape policy independently of the pm varies according to the position of the pm her-or himself.
- a dominant pm narrow the cabinets scope for policy determination
- when pm are weak, however, the cabinet can begin to dictate policy more effectively.
- events significantly affect the power of cabinet and pm.
- this is mainly true of economic policy. In the army 1980s, early 1990s and after 2008, for example, economic policy making was dominated by the problems of economic recession.
Explain Margaret Thatchers time as Prime Minister.
In Office: 1979-90
Parliament majorities: 1979, 1983, 1987.
State of the Party:
- Up to 1982-83 the Con party was fundamentally spilt.
- one section was describe as ‘traditional’ or ‘one nation’ conservatives, who believed in centrist policies, taking into account the interests of business, orders and welfare receipts equally and trying to mediate between them.
- they were known by their opponents as ‘wets’ because the were seen as weak in dealing with the UK economic problems.
- the other section was known as the dries. They were neo-Liberals who believed in free markets, low direct taxation, privatising large industries, reducing the power of trade unions. thatcher led the latter group.
- from 1982 she purged the leadership of the party of the ‘wets’. She dismissed her opponents from the government and replaced them with her allies. This left her at the head of a united party, agreed on her political vision.
Examples of Key Policies:
- privatisation of mart formal nationalised industries
- tight contour over the government finances, avoiding excessive debt. - - curbing the power of trade unions
- reducing direct corporate and personal taxes.
- reducing government regulation of business and finance
- strengthening the rules governing who could claim leader benefits.
- emphasis on national defence ad an active foreign policy
- strongly confronting the Soviet Union
Style of leadership:
- extremely dominant personally who refused to compromise with her opponents.
- she believed that those who were not ‘with her; were against her.
- her supporters called her principled and visionary while her opponents called her stubborn and uncompromising.
- thatcher was very unpopular until 1982.
- she introduced undulating measures that did not seem to be having a beneficial effect on the ailing economy. (Then her fortunes turned).
- the argentine government invaded the British falklands islands so she ordered a task force, which soon liberated the islands.
- this created her reputation as ‘iron lady’
- at the same time the economy began to improve
- these vents increased her authority and power , and she began to transform her party into her own image .
- towards the end of the 1980s , the Cold War began to ebb and the ussr was weakening.
- she and Americans President Ronald Reagan were given much of the credit for ‘defeating’ communism.
- she also resisted moves to create a stronger political union in Europe, staunchly defending British interests.
Circumstance of loss of power:
- in 1988 thatcher and her case advisors introduced the idea of a ‘poll tax’ to replace local property taxes (the rates)
- the idea of a flat rate poll tax was hugely unpopular as it did not take account of peoples incomes and so broke a fundamental principle of taxation - that it should be based on ability to pay.
- despite opposition from all sides including from insider her own party, thatcher declared she was determining date to introduce it .
- her opponents were dismayed and a challenge as mounted against her leadership.
- some of her close allies abandoned her and she lost the leadership election in 1990 (John Major replaced her)
Explain Tony Blair time in office.
In Office (1997-2007)
Parliamentary majorities: 1997, 2001, 2005
State of party:
- from the early 1990s onwards a tight -knit group of leading members of the Labour Party developed a new set of policies designed to challenge the Conservatives and to modernise the UK.
- they became as the ‘New Labour’ and their belief were collectively kno as the ‘third way’
- the third way was a path somewhere between the radical right wing, new-liberal policies of thatcher and the more socialist ideas of the left wing of the Labour Party, combining the best elements of each.
- when Tony Blair became leader of the party in 1994, new labour had taken over most of the party.
- the left wingers (of whom Jeremy Corbyn was a member of) were only a small majority.
- Blair therefore, led a united party with a clear vision and strong determination to Oust the Conservatives.
- it as to prove as cohesive and dynamic as the Conservatives group that underpinned Thatchers authority in the mid 1980s.
- new labor remained united until events began to divide the party in 2003-04.
- by 2007 the split in the party was so severe that Blair had to go.
Examples of Key Policies:
- an extensive programme of Constituion a reform include devolution and the human rights act.
- sharp sustained increases in expenditure on health ad education
- increased welfare benefits for those genuinely unable to support themselves
- introducing a national minimum wage,
- introducing tax credits, mainly to reduce child poverty
- granting independence to the Bank of England to establish more rational finical policies
- using government financial supplies to reduce government debt
- an active foreign policy with major interventions in the balance warm the Sierra Leone civil war and Iraq
- purging closer links with Europe but resisting joining the eurozone..
- reducing business taxes to promote economic growth
Style of Leadership:
- as charismatic as thatcher. However unlike thatcher, he as part of a collective leadership.
- the key policies adopted by the labour government after 1997 were delegated to his leading cohort.
- Economic Policy in particular was handled by Gordon brown and domestic social policy to other senior minsters such as Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Harriet Hartman and frank Dobson.
- Blair himself concentrated largely on foreign policy.
- after 6 0r 7 years, Blair’s leadership became more singular and his popularity in the party wand.
- it was ideally felt that he had over-reached his authority.
- rarely can the fortunes of a prime minster have turned so dramatically on a single event as happened to Tony Blair.
- up to 2003, the uk has enjoyed a sustained period of economic growth, public services such as health and education were improving and bLAIR myself had initiated two successful overseas military campaigns in Sierra Leone and Kosovo.
- at the same time the peace process in Northern Ireland had come to a successful conclusion with the establishment of a power-sharing government in the province.
-then Blair ordered the uk armed forces to join the USA-led invasion in Iraq.
- the war went reasonably well but the aftermath was a disaster.
- in particular it was reared that the evidence Saddam Husseins regime had accumulated weapons of mass destruction was false.
- Saddam as deposed but Iraq fell into widespread sectarian strife.
-as violence in the Middle East grew, bLAIR was sen in an increasingly negative light.
- at the same time it appeared that inequality was growing in the uk. Those who believed the Labour Party’s role was to reduce inequality were dismayed.
- internal opposition gathered around Gordon brown the party fell apart.
Circumstance of loss of power:
- by 2007 the momentum in the party for a change of leadrhis became irresistible.
- tony bLAIR resigned before a divisive leadership contest completely destroyed party unity.
- he recommended that brown should succeed him.
Explain Gordon Brown’s time in Office.
Time in Office: 2007-10
Parliamentary majority: 2007 (66)
State of Party:
- Gordon brown was elected unopposed as labour leader in 2007.
- the party, however was no divided between the centrist ‘blairities’ and the left of the centre ‘brownites’.
- Brown was unable to restore unity
Examples of Key Policies:
- most attention given to dealing with the post 2008 economic crisis, investing in banks to save them from collapse.
- further increases in expenditure on health and education
- raising income ta for the wealthier members of society
Style of Leadership:
- brown was not seen as a natural leader.
- he as viewed as austere on the one hand, but indecisive on the other.
- his media image was negative and it as felt that he lacked Blair visions.
- it was not an event, but rather a non-event, that set the tone of brown ones short period in office.
- he was urged to call a general election in the autumn of 2007.
- labour was still ahead in the opinion polls (brown ended a brief ‘honeymoon’ period, as most new leaders do) and there was a strong political argument in favour of an election.
- brown had not led his party to election victory. He therefore lacked a mandate from the electorate.
- to make matters worst, he had been elected labour leader unopposed, so the basis of his authority was generally eat.
- leading his party to election virtue (most commentators agree that labour would have won in 2007) would have given him a mandate, enhanced his authority and given him 5 years to establish himself.
- but brown dithered and unfairly rejected the idea on election
- no sooner had he decided to carry on without a fresh mandate than a huge financial and eco mind crisis broke over the developed world.
- brown struggled to fend of disaster, both hat home and internationally.
- ironically, brown did act decisively in the crisis but received little public or media credit for doing so.
- furthermore, as chancellor of the exchequer in the years leading up to the crisis, he was party blamed.
- the crisis continued for several years and completely blighted browns premiership.
Circumstances of loss of power:
-Inevitably after the economic crisis and the growing level of public debt in the uk, labour lost the 2010 general election, even though o party won an overall majority.
- brown resigned as party leader and was replaced by ed Miliband.
Explain David Camerons Time in Office.
Time in Office: 2010-16
Parliamentary majorities: 2015 (12)
State of Party:
- the party that cameron inherited in 2005 when he became leader was both demoralised by it 3 consecutive elections defeats and divided.
- it has remained divided since then and this was a major barrier to cameron becoming a dominant leader.
- he is by nature, a controller, but control often eluded him.
- the party did unite around the need for a programme of austerity (cuts in government spending) after the 2008 financial crisis so he was able to govern effectively.
- the internal divisions over the uk relationship with the EU, however, constantly made his party difficult to lead and ultimately led to his down fall.
Examples of key policies:
- A programme of austerity - higher taxes and reduced public spending - to reduce the governments finial deficit.
- progressive social policies including the introduction of same sex marriage.
- promoting more devolution, mainly to Scotland
- reducing direct taxes on those with very low or very high incomes
- targeted reductions in welfare benefits in order to encourage more people to find worker.
- subsidies for pre-school childcare to help families with young children and encourage work
- significant rise in the minimum (‘living’) wage
- intruding sharp increases in university tuition fees
- decisions to hold a referendum on uk membership of the EU.
Style of leadership:
- Cameron had problems exerting the personal power he would have liked to wield.
- to combat the barriers to his leadership he formed a strong bond with his chancellor, George Osborne and his Home Secretary and eventual successor, Theresa may.
- he kept his rivals close by avoiding the temptation to remove them from government.
- thus such opponent as Michael gove, Iain Duncan smith and Boris Johnson remained near the centre of power.
- Cameron’s main achievement may well be seen as his government success in bringing the uk out of recession and stabilising the financial system.
- he will also be notable for having kept together a coalition for a full 5 years and followed this with an election victory.
- however he has been bedevilled by Foreign policy setbacks, especially hen parliament restricted his freedom of action to intervene in the Syrian civil war.
- despite this mixed picture, Cameron’s term in Office will probably be best remembered for one single event - the referendum of the uk membership of the European Union.
- the fact that he lost that referendum will define his premiership in the same way that the Iraq war defend that of tony Blair.
Circumstances of loss of power:
- having lad the class for a referendum on uk membership of the Eu and campaigned strongly for the uk to remain a member, it as inevitable Cameron would have to resign following defeat in the referendum.
What generalisations can you make about the Prime Minters in recent history?
- The size of a pm parliamentary majority seems to be critical, Blair ad that he both benefited from large majorities for much of their terms of office.
- a large majority helps them in two ways. One is that it gives them strong democratic legitimacy. The other is that It makes it easier for them to secure the passage of legislation.
- events are crucial.
- however favourable or unfavourable the political circumstances may b , pms can be made or broken by events outside their control.
- pms need to head a united party if they are able to be truly dominant.
- David Cameron is a good example of leader who was limited by splits in the party.
- the lesson of the premiership of both thatcher and Blair is that pm who seek to stretch their power too far can expect to be reined in.
- pms enjoy considerable authority and have great political and constitutional powers, but if they try to overstep their authority, powerful forces will act against them to prevent them becoming too dominant.
- this is sometimes described as the ‘elastic theory’. The further pm stretch their powers, the strong need the forces will be that restrain them.
What are the 4 models of leadership?
The US model:
- the popularly Elected President plays the role of both head of state and head of government.
- he or she governs the the country in a partisan ay - that is, he or she is either democratic (usually progressive, liberal) or a Republican (Conservative).
- however, he or she represents the USA in a non-partisan way, uniting the people in their collective interests as he or she sees them.
The strong president model.
- best example is France
- the president is elected and has considerable power, close to those enjoyed by the us president.
- the president however is not head of the government
- the PM runs the government with other misinterpret on a day-to-day basis and agrees policy with the president
- the president and prime minsters, are therefor rivals for power
The weak president model:
- this is common in Europe (e.g Germany and Italy)
- the president, often nominated by the legislature rather than popularly elected, is a weak figurehead but does play some of the roles of head of state including ceremonial ones.
- the president can also become politically involved, especially when it becomes difficult to form coalitions to run the government or when a weak government needs to be removed from power.
The constitutional monarchy model:
-the uk is an example also Spain and the Netherlands and Belgium.
- the had of state is a monarch, but he or she is powerless and largely ceremonial.
- in such systems, the pm plays all the roles of bot head of state and head of government.
- he or she is not head of state (unlike the us president) but simply acts like head of state.
- this makes the the questions “ is the uk pm effectively a president”? A difficult one to answer
Asses the argument that the UK Prime Minister is effectively a president.
- he or she is not head of state
- the pm is not directly elected
- the pm conduct of foreign policy is subject to parliamentary approval
- a pm can be removed from office by Parliament or by his or her wowon duty
- the powers of the pm are not codified in a constitution but are conventional
- pm cannot promote patriotic support for the state as presidents do.
- pm takes on many of the roles of head of state and speaks for the nation
- the election of the governing party ones much to the pm leadership
- despite parliamentary constraints, the pm is chef foreign policy maker,
- once in action the pm makes strategic military decisions.
- the pm controls the intelligence services at home and abroad.
- the pm negotiation and agrees foreign treaties
- some charismatic pms such as Churchill, thatcher and Blair have adopted a ‘presidential’ style of
Under our parliamentary system, it is not possible for our PM to evolve into a president - we would have to substantially change the structure of our political system.
Explain the executive functions of making and implementing polciy .
Policy: proposed course of action - what the government hopes to achieve and how it plans to achieve it.
- important decision on how the country should be run e.g should tax’s be higher or lower, how much should be spent on public services etc.
- task responsibility for day to day management.
- ensure that Taxes are collected, benefits are paid
- ensure that public services are running effectively.
- ensure that the laws passed by Parliament are executed, and that policies are put into action.
Where is government policy made?
Policy decisions can be months in the making or if there’s an emergency, policy decision might be made extremely quikcer.
Government department: where the bulk of policy is made
- civil servants outline options and risks
- special advisors can give more political advice: reminding ministers which policies will have the most party and electoral appeal
- outside groups lobby and submit ideas
- minster will often use greens and white paper to set out various policy options and invite feedback before they make firm decisions and draft legislation.
- where many polices are approved - the full cabinet cannot discuss everything.
- help to co-ordinate the policies of similar departments.
- cabinet offices helps in co-ordination - attempt to foresee clashes between government departments, making sure minster are fully briefed on issues.
- where policy questions an be referred for a final decision
- the cabinet only meets weekly and there isn’t enough time for cabinet ministers to throughly eMate and study up each issue
- cabinet acts more as rubber stamp - authorising decisions made in departments or cabinet meetings
- the cabinet has a bigger role in co-ordination, rather than making policy
- where broad policy aims can be set
- the no.10 policy unit (staffed with specials advisors) gives the pm policy advice and monitors the government departments (making sure they are working towards the governments main policy goals)
- the pm can then use this to direct and influence government departments giving them less flexibility.
- pms can circumvent the cabinet and have bilateral, informal meetings with particular ministers - making policy decision that will be hard for the cabinet to challenge.
It is also important to remember that the responsibility for a significant amount of policymaking has been devolved to the
Scottish, welsh, Northern Ireland government.
Explain how the Executive power that allows them to have influence over the legislative agenda.
- while few PMBS ecieve royal assent, government bills are rarely defeated.
- this is part because, so much of the commons timetable is taken up examining government bills
Control of the legislative agenda:
- standing order 14 states that excusing a few exceptions (e.g the 20 days reserved for opposition debates), the government has full control over proceedings in the commons.
- programme motions are also used to limit how long government bills spend in the committee stage , report stage and third reading, reducing the chance that government bills are held up and delayed
What is the Budget?
Give an example.
A statement delivered to the Commons by the Chancellor that sets out the state of the nations finances and any planned changes to public spending and taxation.
This is only revealed to the rest of the Cabinet shortly before the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers their budget speech to Parliament.
Parliament debates the budget and then scrutinises the...
finance bill: the annual bills that authorises and enacts the changes proposed in the budget.
Example: National Deficit.
- in 2010, tone of the coalitions Governments main rarities was to tackle the countries national deficit.
- policy: AUSTERITY: aim to reduce the deficit by cutting public spending while raising certain taxes.
- June 2010 emergency budget: included vat concretes (17.5% to 20%) & 6.2 billion in spending cuts for 2010-11
- a fe day later Parliament passed the annual Finance (No.2) Bill: to amend existing laws and allow the treasury to implement its reforms.
Explain the executive power of secondary legislation.
- ministers can sometimes pursue their polices by making new secondary legislation, using powers granted by existing statues.
Example: University Tuition Fees
- when the 2010-15 coalition decided to raise tuition fees, while making repayment terms more generous for student loans, no new primary legislation was needed...
- teaching and higher education act (1998): Introduced annual university tuition fees
- higher education act (2004): raised the limit on fees, and gave the government power, to adjust the cap with secondary legislation.
- this was followed by the secondary legislation.. higher education (basic amount) (England ) regulations 2010: regulations raising tuition fees up to a max of 9,000
Explain the Executives royal prerogative powers
- refers to the authority and power, recognised in common law, left in the hands of the crown (not subject to the approval of Parliament)
- inn practice, these powers are exercised by the pm, and other minsters, or on their advice.
Example: 2015 Air Strikes on Syria
- in September, pm mad I’d cameron announced to Parliament that 2 British citizens had been killed in Syria by an raf drone strike.
-the government authorised the strike using its prerogative powers, without first informant parliament.
- cameron argued that intelligence agencies believed that the individuals were planning a terrorist attack in the UK, and that to prevent a catastrophe, it was necessary to “act immediately, and explain to the House of Commons afterwards”
Who implements government policy?
Non-departmental public bodies
While these arms-length bodies have their own leadership, ministers are still ultimately responsible for ensuring that they implant their policies successfully, and address the issues the government set out to tackle.
Example: Implementation of Universal Credit:
- one of the most significant reforms to welfare policy in decades.
- the government argued that the existing benefits system had created a welfare trap whereby people were being discouraged from working
- some benefits and ta credits, ere withdraw so quickly as income increased, that claimants ended up being only slightly better off than hen they were unemployed.
- in some case withdrawal were as high as 90%
- the government’s proposals was to merge six types of tax credits benefits into a single monthly payment: Universal Credit (to be withdrawn at a slower rate to ensure that it always paid more to be in work)
- the working and pensions secretary couldn’t go off and make these sweeping changes: the existing benefits were established in various statues.
- Parliament passed the... welfare reform act (2012: approved the new Universal credit and gave the flare secretary power to set out the details through SIs .
- 2013 Universal credit regulations (Secondary legislation): Established the rules for who was entitled to receive the benefit, and how much they would receive.
- however, now the department had to actually implement the scheme - it systems had to be created and tested, staff had to be trained, individuals had to be enrolled etc.
- jobcentre plus - since 2111 - now directly managed by the department of work and pensions
- civil servants assist those looking for work, and conduct interview as part of the application for universal credit
- the executives role does not end with the passage of new laws... they have to ensure that the programmes and services they authorised ar actually working in day to day.
-Governments don’t just have to implement new polices and execute News laws.. they inherit vast umbers of existing laws and services from previous governments that still have to be executed and managed
Explain how the government is both accountable and responsible to Parliament?
- ministers must keep parliament and the public informed, fully explains the government’s policies and actions
-Parliament can hold ministers accountable by asking oral/written Questions and conducting select committees enquires
Responsible to Parliament:
- ministers must also take responsibility, accepting blame as well as praise for how they use their powers and fulfil their duties
- Parliament can hold a failing government responsibility by removing it from power with a motion of no confidence.
- voters Can also hold the government accountable when they vote at general elections.
What are the 3 key principles of Collective Responsibility?
Explain the Collective Responsibility principle of Confidence.
Confidence: the government only remains in office for as long as it retains the confidence of mps/house of commons.
- under the fixed term parliament act (2011) if mps pass a motion “that this house has no confidence in her majesty government” and no alternative government is able to in a confidence vote within 14 days, then parliament is dissolved and a general election is held
- this is irrespective of how a minister is performing.
- this last happened in 1979 - James Callaghan labour government lost a confidence motion by a single vote, forcing the pm to ask the queeen to dissolve Parliament.
Explain the collective responsibility principle of Unanimity.
Unanimity: all misters must support the cabinets decisions in public, even if they don’t agree with them.
- all ministers are inevitably questioned on a range of subjects, even though that fall outside their own department.
- if a minster really doesn’t want to be held responsible for a policy, then they should resign and challenge it from the backbenchers
- this applies even to minster who were not in the cabinet meeting, or the cabinet committee meeting, in which the policy decision was made.
- ministers given their consent by remaining in Office after they have been informed of the decision
- minsters cant absolve themselves of responsibility for a decision by saying they didn’t decide it
- in 2003, robin cook resigned as leader of the House of Commons because h disagreed with labour Iraq policy.
- in 2016, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan smith resigned in response to the governments latest budget, which included cuts to both disability benefits and capital gains tax.
Explain the Collective Responsibility principle of Confidentiality.
Confidentiality: In order to emerge the appearance of unanimity, cabinet discussions, and internal disagreements, must be kept secret.
- it is unrealistic to expect that, behind close doors, in cabinet and committee stages every minster has th exact same view on every issue
-during cabinet and committee meeting, the chair (the PM) invites others to speak and share their views - at the end of the discussion, the chair sums up what has been said, and what has been decided.
- It is common for ministers to share different views - it would be problematic if they didn’t as we want minsters to throughly debates ideas and speak up when they have concerns about a policy proposals.
- but, once decided, minsters should not only support the policy, but keep the discussion/views expressed behind closed doors secret
Explain how Collective Responsibility provides clarity
Collective responsibility is supposed to provide clarity, by ensuring that the government speaks with one voice.
- this is important because, if the government position on an issue is unclear, or if policy appears to be constantly changing... it becomes difficult for opposition parties and voters to hold the government collectively accountable.
- it becomes harder for business to make financial Edison’s & for foreign governments to negotiate and work with the UK.
What are the 2 Established ways in which collective responsibility can be set aside?
- tend to be sued for votes on moral issues or where the government has no stated position.
- backbench mps are freed from the party whip & minsters are simailriy free to vote with their conscience.
- e.g 2013 Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill... it was backed by pm David cameron but a free vote was offered. 2 cabinet man sets and ten junior ministers were amongst the 133 conservatives mps who voted against the bill.
Agreements to differ:
- where the government has a position on an issue, but the cabinet agree to suspend collective responsibility to allow minsters to vote against it
- e.g 2016 EU Referendum.. the governments offices position was that the UK, should remain in the EU, however 4 cabinet ministers and another Minster were able to publicly support the leave campaign
- in theory these agreements to differ do not undermine collective responsibility because the cabinet collectively decides that the convention should not apply to the issue that divides them.
- these haven’t happened often but have become more common
Explain how the 2010-15 coalition government effect Collective Responsibility
Coalitions programme for government’: Set out five areas here 2 part is had such different positions that collective responsibility would not apply.
1.AV Referendum - both parties had to support the bill for a referendum - but could then support either campaign
2. Tuition fees - li dems were allowed to abstain
3. Trident - Lib Dem’s could make the case for alter titles - they didnt believe in the renal of trident
4. Nuclear power - Lib Dem’s could abstain
5 .Tax allowance for married couples- Lib Dem’s could abstain for relevant budget resolutions
Even with an agreement to differ on 5 key issue built into the 2010 coalition agreement, conservative and Lib Dem minsters still stretched the convention:
- after backbench conservative ps voted against the 2012 House of Lords reform bill, which had been championed by the Lib Dem’s, the deputy pm nick glegg instructed Lib Dem mps to support an opposition amendment, delaying constituency boundary reforms that were backed by the government and supported by conservative mps
- this effectively forced the pm to suspend collective responsibility
In practice does collective Responsibility work?
- minsters usually support cabinet decision & resign if they cannot
- free votes and agreements to differ are fairly infrequent
- cabinet/cabinet committee discussions are usually kept secret
- rules for confidence votes are now clearly set out in statue
- collective reasonability is a convention, not a clear legally enforceable law.
- the 2016 ministerial codes says “..the principle of collective responsibility applies to all government minsters”
- ministerial code: document produced by the cabinet office that sets out the standards expected for government minsters.
- if a minster breaks the convention, there is no guarantee that they will feel compelled to resign or that the prime minister ill feel compelled to sack them
Example: Clare short (secretary of state for international development during tony blair time in office till 2003) publicly voiced her concerns that the UK could go to war in iraq without a mandate from the United Nations, and even called the pm tony Blair “deeply reckless” - however she was not sacked, and she continued to publicly voice concerns until she resigned in may 2003
- for many commentators at the time it appeared collective respsonbiltity had been informally suspended
What might undermine collective responsibility?
Leaks: minsters sometimes give journalists secret information on the condition that they are not named
- minsters finding resistance to their ideas in cabinet might leak details if they think they will attract public support, and strengthen their hand in cabinet
- likewise, minsters opposed to a policy might lack details if they think it will prove to be unpopular
- alternatively, minsters might leak unfavourable details about rival minsters, weakening their position
Example: Brexit leaks:
- leaks throughout 2017 made it clear that the cabinet was divided over the aims for Brexit negotiations
- in July, anonymous cabinet minsters complained that the chancellor and the treasury “want to frustrate Brexit”
- leaks also claimed that the chancellor had called public sector Korea’s “overpaid” and had said that driving trains was easy that “Even a Oman can do it”
- Hammond responded by arguing it as noise generated by people unhappy about his views on Brexit.
- in November, a letter written to the pm by the foreign secretary & environment,, food & rural affairs secretary was leaked
- in the letter, the 2 cabinet minsters (boris Johnson and Micheal gove) appeared to criticise the chancellor, and pushed the pm to ensure that Minsters support Brexit by “clarifying their minds” - push for a harder Brexit.
- was harder for the government to maintain the image that they had shared vision for Brexit
- some pms, like Tony blair, have ben accuse of undermine the convention by preferring ‘sofa government’ over ‘cabinet government’
- blair often preferred to discuss policies and make decisions in small informal meetings with select minsters, rather than in formal cabinet meetings
Too weak to enforce the convention?
- pms in more precarious positions, who lack the strength in the commons like Therese may have been accused of being unwilling or unable to enforce the convention.
- example... in September 2017, just 2 days before the pm was due to give a speech on Brexit, the telegraph published a 4,000 ord article by the foreign secretary boris Johnson, in which he sets out his views on brexit.
- after the pm revealed that the cabinet had agreed to a 2 year transition period, Johnson gave an interview to the sun in which he set out ‘four red lines’ for this transition, going beyond the cabinet agreed position
- the former cabinet minster Ken Clarke argued that under normal circumstances” Johnson would have been “sacked the day after” these articles
- however, some argued that it was difficult to accuse Johnson of failing to stand by cabinet decisions, because the cabinet had agreed few specific details that there was little official policy to support
- almost 3 months later, the chancellor revealed that the cabinet hands till not discussed what final outcome was being pursued in the on-going Brexit negotiations.
Can Parliament remove a minster?
- parliament does not have the power to remove a minster that refuses to reign, or that the pm refuses to sack.
- however parliament can remove the entire government with a vote of no confidence.
- a PM that refuses to sack a minster who has lost Parliaments confidence takes on considerable poltical risk
-a pm might conclude that it is better to have a particular minster take responsibility and resign.
Example: Resignation of Edwina Currie - Parliament under-secretary of state for health (1998)
- currie resigned in 1998 after critics accused her of exaggerating the number of British eggs carrying salmonella in a tv interview
- egg sales declined by 60% - 4 million hens were slaughtered and 400 million eggs were destroyed
- the egg industry took legal action, and he government agreed to a multi-million pond compensation package to support the farming industry.
Give an example of a Minster being dismissed because of their private conduct
Resignation of Chris Huhne - Secretary of State for energy & climate change:
- resigned in 2012 after he was prosecuted for preventing the court of justice - he had asked his wide to take driving licence penalty points (incurred from speeding) to avoid being banned from driving.
- he later resigned from parliament and served 9 weeks in prison.
Resignation of David Laws - Chief Secretary to the Treasury
- resigned weeks after the 2010 coalition was formed - resigned after it was revealed that he had claimed 40,0000 in expense for his second home, even though the room he was renting was owned by his long-term partner.
Why should minsters be held responsible and accountable to parliament for their entire department?
Civil servants give impartial advice and impartially carry out the orders of ministers
Minsters make the Political Policy decisions.
As a result, it is minsters ho should be held accountable when policies fail
In order to encourage civil servants to give honest advice, they are kept largely anonymous which is why minsters mostly answer Select committee questions and account for their department in parliament.
When civil servants appear before select committees, they do so to speak on behaviour of their minsters, under their instructions
Civil servants should give the committee factual information, rather than dean policy decisions.
Civil servants are immune from blame - poor performance will hurt their careers, and serious mistakes could lead to their dismissal
But in theory, minsters are responsible for snoring that the officials they delegate to have the right skills, and so should still take responsibility when things go wrong.
Minsters have to delegate certain powers and responsibility to civil servants because they can not possibly do everything themselves.
Civil servants are accountable to minsters and minsters are accountable to parliament.
Example: Resignation of Sir Thomas Dugdale - Minister of agriculture.
-during ww2 the government forced a landowner to sell 725 acres of farmland in crichel down, so that it could be used as a runway
- the owners were told that they would be able to buy the land back after the war, however this promise was not honoured
- the previous owners launched a campaign to pressure the government to keep its promise - which led to a public enquiry
- an enquiry final report criticised serval civil servants for maladministration, but did not mention the minister of agriculture
- nonetheless, sir Thomas Dugdale resigned
However, it is increasingly unusual for misters to rising over mistakes made by civil servants. It was also later revealed that Dugdale knew more about the Crichel down affair than he let on, in his resignation speech
Why has the convention of individual ministerial responsibility been challenged?
- one reason is the growing size & complexity of government.
- as a magnet hodge told the constitution committee in 2012, when individual and collective responsibility as first established there ere 28 civil servants, now there are 34,000’
- the idea of cabinet minister being accountable for the actions of 34,000 people is slightly harsh.
- there are many examples of minsters distancing themselves from the mistakes of civil servants which can be very controversial
Example: West Coast Mainline franchise competition.
- in 2012 the department of transport had to cancel its decision to award a contract to the transport company FirstGroup, because serious numerical errors ad been made during the competition process
- the cancellation cost taxpayers at least 50 million largely sue to the need to compensate the businesses who had competed to win the contract
- a transport select committee report argued that problems resulted from “failures of governance, assurance and policy
- and resourcing”
- however no Minster resigned
- the Secretary of State responsible (Justine greening) had already been reshuffled into a different post before the competition process was cancelled.
Explain how the arms-length bodies effect individual ministerial responsibility.
- a wide range of ‘arms-length bodies’ are now responbile for implementing Policy.
- to varying degrees.. executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies and non-ministerial departments are kept at arms length from minsters to reduce political interference.
- constitutionally, Ministers remain responsible to Parliament for the executive agencies within their department, and the other bodies their department sponsors
- however as these bodies are kept at ‘arms-length’ minsters have argued that.... ministers should be responsible for policy decisions but the chief executives of the various agencies and bodies that should be responsible for the successful implementation of these policies.
- hover in practice, deciding whether a problem was caused by flat policy decisions by minsters/departments or flawed implementation of policy by chief executive/arms-length bodies is not always easy.
Example: Three prisoners escaped from Parkhurst prison in 1995
- e.g did the home office not ensure that there were sufficient numbers of prison officers?
- did her majesty’s prison service not do enough to ensure that the prison as running effectively?
- Michael hoard (Home Secretary at the time) did not see the escape as a policy failure - he blamed and sacked Derek Lewis (HM Prison Service) after he refused to resign.
- Lewis believed that he had been unfairly dismissed and took legal action on - he argued that bad policies and ministerial interference were partially to blame - a settlement was agreed before it went to court
Increasingly, minsters argue that they are responsible and accountable for their own actions but only accountable for the action of others.
What is the Ministerial Code?
- document produced by the cabinet office that sets out the standards expected of government minster
- not legally binding - cannot be enforced by the courts
- the only specific dismissible offence it includes is “knowingly misleading parliament”
- the code explain that the prime minister is “ultimately judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister and the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards”
- recent prime minsters have been very inconsistent in how they’ve enforced the code.
Explain the 1982 Falkland Islands invasion where the foreign secretary resigned.
The foreign secretary Lord Carrington and 2 junior foreign office minsters reigned over their failure to anticipate and prevent Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland island in 1982
- Lord Carrington said that he didn’t think he had done much wrong however he reigned because war was looming and he didn’t want to “ enter a war amid a welter of recrimination about who was responsible”
What are the 4 sources available to the Prime minister
In their book ‘Premiership’: The development, Nature and Power of the Office of the British Prime Minister’ by Andrew Blick & George Jones they identified 4 resources available to the PM:
- Institutional Resources:
- Constitutive Resources
- Political Resources
- Personal Resources
Explain the PMs institutional resource
The team of civil servant and special advisors that comes within the office
- worker inside number 10 tasked with managing their diaries, providing them with resources and helping them to monitor government departments making sure they are on track.
- the earliest prime minister enjoyed considerable instructional resources.
- they led and were supported by the largest department in the government. -The Treasury.
- the pm is still”first lord of Treasury” but this is ceremonial - they don’t work at the treasury, or give the annual budget speech.
Prime Ministers Office:
- when harold also became pm in 1964, the total staff at no.10 was 35, however in 2016 pm david cameron had a much larger team of 180.
- in recent years it has not been uncommon to find minsters complaining that this large team at no.10 is micromanaging the government - giving detailed policy instructions to departments,monitoring their progress, approving ministers speeches and requiring all policy announcements to made via the no.10 press Office so the pm team can control the exact timing and messaging.
Explain the PM Constitutive Resources
Responsibility given by statue/convention, to make decision & take certain actions.
- the UK lacks a codified constitution to neatly outline the prime minsters various powers and responsibilities
- the position of prime minister evolve gradually, and was not officially recognised for a long Time
- the first act of parliament to recognise the existence of a prime minster was the chequers estate act (1917)
- the prime ministers main powers are based largely on the royal prerogative and constitutional convention
- there have been legal limits on the royal prerogatives e.g fixed term parliament act 2010 however Theresa may was still able to use the terms of the statue to call an early general election in 2017.
- non-legal limits on the royal prerogatives: parliamentary approval for military action convention.. david cameron authorised the use of drone strikes in Syria in 2015 before he informed Parliament.
- even the prerogatives that have been left untouched by Parliament are still subject to important political limits e.g patronage.
- patronage: the power to hire/fire minsters into new jobs, can have many benefits... the pm can surround themselves with like-minded allies, minsters are encouraged to be loyal to the person they owe their job to, backbench mps hoping to be promoted are equally encouraged to be loyal.
- however .. there are many limits on the use of patronage power.. limited talent pool - by convention most cabinet ministers must be elcted mps, diversity - the need to have a Cabinet/government that reflects the population, rivals - some senior figures might be popular/dangerous to overlook or sack, party factions - pressure to ensure that different factions are represented.
- over time, the pm accumulated increasing power to manage the cabinet system.
- by convention , the pm calls and chairs cabinet meetings - they decide how frequent meetings are, how long they are and what is on the agenda.
- as chair, the pm decides who speaks, and gets to sum up the discussion, and what has been decided, at the end - the final decisions become government policy
- it is rare for the cabinet to vote, so the prime minister theoretically has considerable discretion to decide what exactly the cabinet has approved.
- however there are obvious political risks to repeatedly ignore and overlook concerns raised by senior cabinet minsters
-by convention, the prime minister also manages the wider cabinet system
- they can create abolish and cabinet committee and sub-committee
- the decide the membership of each committee and who chairs them
- when may became pm in 2017, she abolished a number of long standing cabinet committee and re-arranged the remains subcommittee around 4 main policy committee all of which, she would chair - as reports get passed up from the various sub-committee, may would therefore be in a position to sty informed of all major developments - as chair she was also in a position to influence these proposals before they were referred to the full cabinet.
- as cabinet system is government by convention, some pms have used the ambiguity an flexibility of the rules to circumvent the cabinet.
- sofa government: some pms like tony blair proffered to make key decision in bilateral meeting with individual ministers, or small groups of ministers and advisors in no.10. - treating cabinet as a rubber stamp, authorising decisions that had already been made.
- by convention, the pm also had the power to reshape the government to suit their policy agenda.
- e.g as a result of the 2016 Eu referendum, Theresa May created a new department for the EU... Department for Exiting the European Union.
Explain the PMs Political Resource
Power to persuade/influence that results from popularity, seniority & success.
- pms are often able to draw upon their authority as leader of the largest party in the commons, their support from the cabinet or the public to coarse others to doing what they want.
- unlike their cabinet peer, the prime minister won a leadership election, being given a mandate to lead by fellow mps and grassroots supporters.
- general elections have also become more focused on party leaders, leading some pms to also claim a personal mandate from voters - making it harder for other minsters to refuse the pms authority to lead
- the pm enjoys more media attention and name recognition than other minsters - it is the pm, rather than the cabinet, that many consider to represent the government.
- the way the public view their performance can effect how the entire party and governments is assessed by voters
- as a result, mps and members are discouraged from criticising the pm too strongly, because doing so could undermine the government as a whole.
- when things are going well for the pm e.g economy is growing, unemployment is low, large majority in the commons, backbenchers are united they will have substantial political resources, enabling them to make full use of their powers.
- when thing are gong badly e.g pms lose sets, economy goes into recession, wages fall, unemployment low, public approval decreases, media targets the pm, backbenchers rebelling it will be much harder to make use of formal powers e.g patronage.
Explain the PM Personal Resources
Character traits, skills, expertise and ways of working that make it easier to influence others.
- 2 different prime ministers could be dealt the same bad hand of poltical cards, but their personalities could lead them to play them in very different ways.
- e.g some prime minsters...
- are more confident and charismatic public speakers
- have much stronger ideological vision or clearer policy aims e.g Therese may and tony blair - determined to drive these policies through with or without cabinet.
- more willing and capable of working, long difficult hours - will effect how involved they can get in the vast areas of policy decisions made across government.
- have more experience and relevant expertise
Explain the Institutional Resources available to the Cabinet.
- the use of cabinet committees and sub-committees during ww2 and continued after the war, and the position of cabinet secretary was made permanent.
- more staff were hired to work in hat would become the cabinet office, providing administrative support to this larger, more formal cabinet system.
Cabinet Office: Main building is at 70 Whitehall, adjacent to no.10 donning Street - connected by an internal door
- employs over 2000 staff
- Provides administrative support: preparing agendas, taking minutes of cabinet, and committee meetings, circulating papers and decisions - ensuring ministers are kept informed.
- Supports Collective government: co-ordinates Policy development where issue cut across multiple departments, identify potential policy
clashes between departments and arrange a meeting.
- the cabinet office also plays a role in supporting the prime minster, as they are, after all, the chair of the cabinet.
- however.. this support has been more extensive under some prime minister than others.
- critics criticised tony blair for effectively colonising the government - creating multiple units within the cabinet office that were arguably more focused on serving the pm than the cabinet as a collective e.g the delivery unit (monitored departments to ensure that they were delivering on the pm key public service priorities) and the strategy unit (provided the pm with long-term policy advice on emerging issues, and helped departments to develop strategies to meet the pm policy priorities) which were almost an extension of the NO.10 Office.
- as the head of large, well staffed departments, individual cabinet minsters, also have considerable institutional resources.
- Secretary of State supported by junior ministers, special advisors, large terms of permanent civil servants.
Explain the Constitutive Resources available to the Cabinet
The powers it has, under statue and convention.
- by convention, the cabinet is the ultimate decision-making body of government
- in constitutional theory, cabinet discusses and makes policy decisions that, under the convention of collective responsibility, all minsters are collectively responsible to Parliament for.
- there are still rare occasions where the cabinet will discuss matters in detail
- if a policy is extremely divisive it is in the pm interest to allo all cabinet ministers to air their views, and find a position that they are all willing to accept collective responsibility.
- however, in Bernal cabinet is no longer a forum for vigorous debate and policy making.
- cabinet meetings are not regular enough, or long enough, for every policy matter to be discussed in detail.
- even when issues are discussed, some ministers may not have enough expertise or interest to contribute. - busy managing their on department and dealing with constituency issues.
- however it is also possible for decisions to be made outside the cabinet system
- e.g in a bilateral meeting between a minster and the pm, or in a meeting of the prime minster and their special advisor in no.10 then a decisions might have already been made even if a discussion does occur in the committee.
While the full cabinet rarely debates policy in detail, it still performs 4 important functions:
- Ratification: formerly approves and legitimises Policy decisions made in cabinet committees or more informally
- Information: keeps Ministers informed about developments across government, business in parliament etc.
- Co-ordination: co-ordination policies that cut across various departments, and ensures that different policies are compatible
- Arbitration: Resolves conflicts between different departments if problems cannot be solved more informally
- while the cabinet has few formal powers as a collective, individually, cabinet minsters have considerable constitutive resources
- countless statues give the Secretaries of State power to make secondary legislation, and responsibility to implement acts of Parliament.
- them can try to influence how minsters use these powers, ultimately, back in the department, the Secretary of State is in charge.
Explain the Political resources available to Cabinet.
- they may have strong support on the backbenchers or in the press.
- they may have been associated with a recent policy success
- they might be proving a policy that is popular with the grassroots voters, or wider public
- if a majority of cabinet minsters are united in opposition to a policy, it could be very risky for the pm to try to use their powers to override them.
- if disgruntled minsters leak damaging information to the press, or popular senior minster resign, this could greatly undermine the PM authority
- no pm wants to pear to be leading a divided cabinet that is no loner united behind their policy agenda.
Example: pm Margaret thatcher authority was clearly impacted by a series of high profile resignations that resulted from growing divisions within her cabinet.
- Nigel Lawson (chancellor of the exchequer) reigned in 1989 because he thought he was being undermined by thatcher economic special advisor Alan Walters.
- Geoffrey Howe (Deputy Prime minster), thatcher longest serving cabinet minister resigned in 1990 delivering a famous critical resignation speech in which he criticised the pm increasingly hostile approach to the European Union - this soon led to a conservative leadership contest which thatcher lost.
- if a prime minster expands all of their political resources ignoring or overriding the cabinet, they might leave themselves in a very vulnerable position.
Explain the Personal Resources available to the cabinet.
- some minsters will be more outspoken and defiant during a cabinet reshuffle while others will quietly accept the prime minster changes
- some minsters will have a clear vision for their department, while others will be more materials, happy to follow orders from no.10
- some minsters will have expertise and experience that is hard to challenge, while regular reshuffles can leave others with little time to develop expertise
- some minsters will be more adept at handling the media and their image while others may have weaker public relations skills and a much lower profile.
Personal scandals are a more common thing for minsters to resign over.
Give an example
Andrew Mitchell - 2012 (then Chief whip in the coalition government)
- resigned after it was alleged by police officers that he had sworn at them after they had told him to leave via the pedestrian gate of Downing Street.
What is the disadvantage that minsters have?
Lack of permanency:
- minsters have on average around 2 years in a particular ministerial position before being either promoted or demoted (dont have time to develop expertise) - potentially more reliant on the expertise and opinion of the civil servants.
Lack of expertise:
- minsters often lack a specialism in their department’s work and do not have the time to acquire it
Lack of time:
- minsters have multiple responsibilities, needing to continue their constituency work alongside their ministerial work
- these dual job requirements make it more difficult for minsters compared to civil servants who can just focus on the departments work.
- it’s been frequently suggested, particularly by retired misters that it’s the civil servants that has the greater influence on policy than government issues.
- in 1999 tony blair delivered a controversial in which he complained about the “scars on my back” from pushing through his policies in the face of a resistant civil service.
Explain the “Next Steps “ Reforms 1988
Concerns by the 1980s over the delivery and implementation of policy.
- arguable even since these reforms its become more difficult for minster to manage civil servants.
- separated the policy making and policy delivery component.
-policy making remained within government departments
- services provided by newly created agencies
What are special advisors?
Individuals appointed by minsters or pm, with the approval of the pm, to work alongside, assist and advice them
Unlike the permanent and neural civil service, advisors are temporary and partisan
The number of special advisors has grown significantly
Increased greatly under Tony Blair as he anted to avoid ‘departmentalitis’ (where plans were stalled from resistant civil service
- initially david cameron pledged to reduce the number of special advisors
- however in October 2013 it was announced that the number of special advisers had increased from 65 in 2010 to 98 in 2013.
- special advisors make up about 2.5% of civ servants
Explain the situation with Jeremy Hunt and his special advisor in 2012.
Jeremy Hunt (at the time as Secretary of State for culture media, Olympic is and sport)
- given ‘quasi-judicial’ role overseeing a bid by news corporation to buy the company BSkyB
- supposed to act neutrality in the role, favouring no particular outcome
- however it emerged in the media whilst hunt as overseeing the bid, hunt had broke the rules and was exchanging hundreds of emails and text messages with an in-house lobbyist for news corporation
- the ministerial code stats that special advisors can help minsters with their worker but in this case due to hunts ‘quasi-judicial role’ such contact wasn’t allowed
- critics argued that under the convention of individual ministerial responsibility was vital that hunt be held accountable for the actions of his special advisor.
- smith resigned however hunt didn’t arguing he had never directly approved smiths actions
What evidence is there, that cabinet is just a rubber stamp?
- many decisions have already been made in bilateral meetings or cabinet committee and only receive final approval from the full cabinet
- cabinet minsters lack the time and expertise to become expertise on every single policy area
- is it realistic to expect cabinet minsters to be able to fully debat everything in a single weekly meeting?
However... It’s too simplistic to say cabinet is no longer significant. The PM likewise can not be an expert in all policy areas or chair every cabinet committee - giving powers to others
- it is important that secretaries of stat are informed of the work of other departments to ensure there is wha Tony blair called “joined u government” - where similar aims and targets are being followed and the departments are working together.
- cabinet is still useful in resolving disputes and reaching official government decision which they are all bound to
- chief whips also attend to address the level of support from the backbenchers
What is the strongest argument of in favour of Cabinet government ?
The necessity of cabinet government
- having to work with an entirely different political party, a deputy pm and 4 key other ministerial positions - it simply isn’t possible for cameron to operate a sofa government .
- the pm still used informal meetings but often to negotiate the differences between the 2 parties ahead of cabinet meetings.
- ‘The Quad’ - PM, Deputy PM, Chancellor of the Excequer, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
- the work of cabinet committee has become more significant
- each committee has a chair from one part and a deputy chair from the other party
- policies require support from both parties - disputes may be settled by full cabinet
- the theory of cabinet government was strengthen by the coaltition government.
Explain the Personalisation of Politics.
- The rise of 24 hours news cycle focused on Downing Street (it took so much control over messaging under tony blair) - the focus is increasingly on our party leader which has spilled over into our general elections.
- in 2010 there was the first TV debates between the party leaders, just like there have been presidential debates between candidates since the 1960s in America.
- millions watched the party leaders debate - and the leaders performance may have an influence on how people voted.
- some leaders consider themselves to have a personal mandate to lead
Explain the Spatial Leadership.
Theory put forward by Michael Foley in “The British Presidency”
- due t o the greater separation of powers, US presidents often have to make use of the media’s attention to pressure the legislative into action
- Foley argues that PMs like Thatcher and Blair where very similar, attempting to establish space between themselves and their party, portraying themselves as outside from the establishment, who were on the side of the public
- thatcher presented her battle as one against the Tory wets who resisted her radical agenda and blair presented himself as reigning in, the left in influences of the Labour Party that he saw as anti-business.
What argument is there that the PM acts like the head of state?
Seen as the national leader in times of emergency, or on the world stage, rather than the monarch, our actual head of state.
What is the Core Executive Theory?
-Power does not lie solely within either cabinet or
the prime minsters
- instead it resides in a complex network of key individuals, offices, departments and agencies
- it recognises the importance of senior civil servants and special advisors, in addition to prime minster and minsters.
- the theory sees per as dispersed across the executive - with success requiring the co-operation of numerous bases of power.
- sees these different individuals and groups as dependent on each other for continued success and power.
- some PMs are given substantial independence over policy
- e.g Michael Gove had a huge influence as Education Secretary - as long as his reforms remain popular with backbenchers and cononservtive media,he is likely to keep his influence.
- David Cameron has proved that he will intervene in minsters work. When there’s problem e.g david cameron forced the health secretary andrew Langley to pasuse his NHS reforms after they were criticised in 2011 and then in 2012 h reshuffled him into a new job.
- treasury is very influential at a time of austerity and budget cuts
- key civil servants and special advisors should not be overlooked
- ex chancellor George Osborne was once described as “the octpus” for having a hand in every government department
- The idea of a core executive was strengthened by the core executive which disperses power between the 2 governing party
Why did Amber Rudd resign?
Why is this significant?
She resigned as Home Secretary citing that she ‘inadvertently mislead the home affairs committee’ over the government’s targets for removing illegal immigrants.
Pressure had been mounted on Rudd to resign amid the Windrush scandal which is an ongoing political scandal involving the the immigration status of members of the Windrush generation.
Whilst she didn’t explicitly outline the Windrush scandal as her reason for leaving, it arguably contributed to it.
A good example of the doctrine of individual ministerial Responsibility being followed.