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Has the Prime Minister acted more as a president in recent years?

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Introduction

Has the Prime Minister acted more as a president in recent years? Presidentialism is the trend of political leaders acting increasingly like executive presidents through the rise of personalized leadership. The key difference between a president and a prime minister was succinctly summed up by Bagehot in 1963 when he described the role of e prime minister to be the 'first among equals'. This means that traditionally prime minister is the primary representative of government whilst sill ensuring that all members of the cabinet have an equal influence over decisions. In recent years it is clear that this is no longer the case. The Iraq war in 2003 demonstrated personal leadership replacing collective leaders and many believed that the decision to go to war was a clear reflection of the fact that the UK no longer had a prime minister, but a president. Tony Blair had ignored mass anti-war demonstrations on the streets on London and other major UK cities with his fierce determination to 'stand by the USA'. In an age of political celebrity, the public profile of the prime minister dominates those of senior colleagues and of their parties. ...read more.

Middle

or simply high-profile news stories such as when Gordon Brown recently discussed and in some ways was blamed for the 'Baby P' case instead of the minister of children, schools and families (Ed Balls) the same was seen when Tony Blair was the key figure instigating the war in Iraq as opposed to the foreign secretary. Thirdly, the personalised election campaigns demonstrate how it is the leader of the party that is fighting for the votes of the electorate as opposed to the MP's of the constituencies. The media increasingly portrays elections as battles between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, this was illustrated by The Independent's headline 'Brown Vs Cameron: Let the battle commence' at the time of the party conferences. The Party leaders have become the 'brand image' of their parties or government, meaning that personality and image have become crucial determinants of political success. Finally, the decreasing importance of the cabinet demonstrates the prime ministers growing independence; this is made evident by the rising use of private advisors rather than cabinet ministers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Without these factors a prime minister will appear incredibly weak and therefore both unpowerful and unpresidential which would force a prime minister into a much more consensual style of leadership, this was seen by Gordon Brown throughout the summer of 2008 which then lead to a lot of further debates of his ability to lead and disputes within the party. Although this would be seem as if a prime minister has lost all presidential status, the fact that throughout 2008 Gordon Brown was blamed and publicised as opposed to the blame for the government blunders being shared amongst the party, Gordon Brown continued to demonstrate his spatial leadership, a key determinant that the prime minister leadership does lean towards the trend of presidentialism. It is clear that there is a growing trend towards a British presidency despite the fact that no British prime minister will ever be able to exercise the same powers as the American president but due to increasing tendency of the growth of spatial leadership, the tendency towards 'populist outreach' and the increase of personalised election campaigns, it is hard to ignore that the face of British politics are evolving. ...read more.

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