• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How powerful is the Prime Minister?

Extracts from this document...


How powerful is the Prime Minister? It is important to distinguish between competing interpretations of prime ministerial power: 'The Cabinet Government View' (Jones 1985) stresses the existence of collective decision-making. According to this view the Prime Minister is merely 'primus inter pares' and rules through consensus and inclusive participation. 'The Prime Ministerial Government View' (Hennessy 1995/Foley 2000), this view stresses the dominance of the Prime Minister over the cabinet, his party and the civil service. -'The theory of the Core Executive' (Rhodes 1995), this view stresses the pluralistic nature of decision-making. The old debate between supporters of the traditional Cabinet Government View and the Prime Ministerial Government view is sterile, evidence can be found to support both views. And the distinction often hinges on the question of personality (e.g. the difference between Major and Blair). ...read more.


This process was accelerated by Thatcher and increased by Blair, this has helped in the formation of 'The theory of Presidential Leadership'. Here, Foley describes how party politics has been transcended by the 'spatial leadership' of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has populist appeal to voters who tend to identify with leader rather than party. The Prime Minister (and his senior ministers) now possesses privileges traditionally enjoyed by the monarch in the Royal prerogative, allowing the Prime Minister the power to call elections, dissolve Parliament, pardon criminals and declare war among other things. There has also been a sharp increase in the number on non-ministerial appointments and an influx in special advisors at Downing Street. Blair, like Thatcher, was keen to bring in advice from the private sector, as demonstrated with is close alliance on powerful advisors such as Alistair Campbell and Jonathan Powell. ...read more.


Similarly, the Civil Services' influence in determining government is vast (due to permanence, neutrality, Unity anonymity). Moreover external factors/pressures can also constrain the Prime Minister's powers such as the economic climate and the Government's popularity etc. The dispersal of decision-making power to other key actors in the core executive (such as the Bank of England) have reduced the power concentrated in the Prime Minister's hands. Finally, the influence of corporate interests/pressure groups on Government policy cannot be underestimated, as seen with the NFU's influence during the Foot and Mouth Crisis. There is clear evidence of the Prime Minister's power, but also the many constraints on that power. The importance of personality is great, but this must be measured against the objective factors afore-mentioned. The Prime Minister is only one individual and cannot control the entire system. Instead, we might conclude that he/she plays a strategic role and increasingly serves as the focal point of government and popular expectations. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. Comparison of the US President and British Prime Minister.

    of the State of the Union address to forward his proposals for legislation and make it known to Congress, his intentions for the year, and the fact that he passes more legislation than Congress. We may also consider the use of Executive Powers by the President as a further way

  2. Free essay

    Identify and Discuss the Role of Prime Minister, Giving Specific Examples within the British ...

    In May 1997 Tony Blair and New Labour were elected into government. Tony Blair "strengthened the Prime Minister's office to a Greater degree than any of his Predecessors" (Jones et al 2007). By 2001 he had made more changes than his predecessors over the last 50 years combined.

  1. Government & Politics. The Prime Minister.

    But because of Parliament and democracy, these powers are know carried out by the Prime Minister because the monarch is not elected it would be undemocratic for them to perform such actions. To complicate matters, prerogative powers fall in to two categories, powers as Head of State and powers as Head of Government.

  2. Has The Prime Minister Become More Powerful In Recent Years?

    This shows increasing power for the Prime Minster. Blair has had an easier time in office that Major. He has enjoyed large parliamentary majorities, a strong position within his party and a largely silent cabinet. We can see that as we have moved down the list of the last three Prime Ministers, the power they have had has generally increased.

  1. priministers power

    : * MPs support their leader in good times and bad * Elections have become presidential * Prime Ministers dominate party policy-making * Prime Ministers have great powers of patronage * The Chairmanship view suggests: * Parties are coalitions of viewpoints * Prime Ministers never enjoy the support of all

  2. Where does the decision making power lie in the British executive: with the Prime ...

    current Prime Minister, cabinet and Civil Service and this strict reading of the question may lead us to pass over events in more distant history. However the question identifies institutions and offices rather than personalities, the conventions regulating the interaction of these groups has evolved over a long period and

  1. How powerful is the Prime Minister?

    Whilst choosing like minded people within the PM's cabinet, the PM also chooses 'enemies' this allows the PM again total domination because whilst they are in his cabinet they have collective responsibility to abide by, not allowing them to go against the PM's views and decisions.

  2. How powerful is the Prime Minister?

    A classic example of this, was Thatcher?s government in the years 1979-83, where she consolidated her position by transforming her cabinet from one dominated by the ?wets? (One Nation conservatives) to one in which all the key economic posts rested in the hands of the ?drys? (Thatcherite Conservatives).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work