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How presidential has the Prime Minister become in recent years ?

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Introduction

How Presidential is the Prime Minister (40m) Peter Henessy claims that the Prime Minister has been becoming more and more "presidential" since the 1970's and this is arguably true, as will be explored in this essay. Overtime the Prime minister, especially Thatcher and Blair, has become more and more of an "international figure" used as a tool on the international stage. This has historically been a characteristic of the US president and can easily be seen as a reason to label prime ministers as being Presidential. They, just like their American counterparts spend much of their time representing the country, be it at a climate conference in Copenhagen or a publicity boosting tour of Afghanistan. ...read more.

Middle

This was further indicated with a massive surge in supposed support for the Liberal Democrats after their leader's impressive performance, but such support was highly criticised for being for the wrong reasons, based on a "theatrical personality performance" over cold hard facts and policies. Another key feature is that the role of the cabinet has diminished over the years. Historically cabinet meetings lasted hours, but under Tony Blair a record length of 35 minuets was achieved. Instead he (Blair) preferred a more informal, ad-hoc, "sofa government" where cabinet members reported directly to him instead of in general meetings. This was epitomised by the half joke half serious comment of a senior Labour politician saying that the most important phrase in Government at the time was "Tony wants". ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps most importantly the Prime minister does not enjoy a fixed term like the US President does, and so is constantly accountable to the public and their own party. As a result the prime minister must make sure he keeps both his cabinet and party, as well as the general public onside. In conclusion we can see that Henessy was right in saying that Prime Ministers have become more presidential over the years, despite the fact that there are still considerable checks on their power. Perhaps it is better to say that the Prime Minister is becoming more presidential in "appearance" but not so much in actual routine. It is also interesting whether or not this "presidentialisation" started even earlier with the likes of Lloyd George during world war 1, who showed an equal international presence as say Tony Blair did. ...read more.

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