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Prime Minister & the Cabinet

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There have been criticisms concerning the amount of power that the British Prime Minister (Premier) possesses. Most of these criticisms are regarding the fact that the British system of government seems to be departing from a Cabinet government; whereby collective responsibility prevails. However the pattern, in which recent significant Premiers such as Margret Thatcher and Tony Blair have wielded power and authority, has fuelled suggestions that the so called Cabinet government is veering towards a Prime Ministerial government. In the British system of government the executive; including the cabinet, cabinet committees, Prime Minister's office, and the cabinet office, are the head of the government and therefore in charge of the functions of the state. On the other hand is Parliament the legislature and the courts and judges (judiciary). However because the Prime Minister is the head of the cabinet; which in turn is positioned at the head of the government, and he/she is also the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons, there have been suggestions that power, could indirectly manifest in the hands of one individual. This has paved the way for arguments that the Prime Ministers Powers are beyond constraints; therefore making his/her position the most powerful political office in the democratic society. Although the fact still remains that the British system of government is based on collective responsibility, provided by a collective executive, and even a strong ...read more.


The PM`s power of patronage is significant because it allows him/her to be able to coerce senior ministers who do not wish to lose their position, into agreeing with policy and important decisions, and if they disagree, they would be expected to resign in order for the government to maintain the perception of a collective government. Leech, R., Coxall, B. & Lynton, R. [2006], p.193 suggests that the power of patronage could result in harming what appears to be a government that is strongly based on collective responsibility. An example of a Premier that suffered this fate was Margret Thatcher. The damage to her government was as a result of a split government; after the resignation of her Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine in 1986; then the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Nigel Lawson) in 1989, and finally her Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Howe in 1990; who before resigning delivered a damaging resignation speech, in order to provoke other credible opponents to challenge Thatcher's government. After the resignation of such an important minister it was obviously clear that Thatcher's government was divided. Another PM who almost suffered this fate was Tony Blair, when his international secretary Claire Short openly aired her views against his recklessness regarding the war in Iraq; however her resignation was delayed and therefore did not do much harm to Blair's government. ...read more.


an hour session, it is important that the PM uses the opportunity to prove to the nation that he/she is in control; by being able to account for his/her actions, [Kingdom, J., 2003]. The argument surrounding the position of the PM being termed as a Prime Ministerial government has been going on for 40 years and will most probably carry on. As Kingdom, J. [2003], puts it; the position of PM is what the person in the position makes it, sometimes there are weak characters, and some times you have strong characters such as Margret Thatcher and Tony Blair; who were both notably influential. However when the cabinet feels as if the character of a PM is veering towards a more dominant controlling figure, it has enough power to remove the PM form office, [[Leech, R., Coxall, B. & Lynton, R. 2006]. BIBILIOGRAPHY 1. Williams, A. [1998]. UK Government & Politics. 2nd ed. Jordon Hill: Heinemann Educational Publishers. 2. Kingdom, J. [2003]. Government and Politics in Britain: An Introduction. 3rd ed. 65 Bridge Street, Cambridge: Polity Press. 3. Leech, R. Coxall, B. & Robins, L. [2006]. British Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 4. The Cabinet and British Politics [Online] Available at http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk [Accessed 23 February 2010] 5. The powers of the Prime minister [Online] Available at http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk [Accessed 22 February 2010] 6. BBC News: Economy Tracker [Online] Available at 7. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7789784.stm [Accessed 17 February 2010] ...read more.

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