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

Prime Ministerial Power " Questions

Extracts from this document...


Prime Ministerial Power - Questions (a) Outline two powers of the Prime Minister (5 marks). One of the powers of the Prime Minister is to appoint and dismiss ministers. He does not need any constitutional requirement to make these changes. Tony Benn, former Cabinet Minister, argues that this is his most important power, since "by the use or threat of use of this authority, all the other powers...fall into the hands of the Prime Minister alone; to exercise as he or she thinks best." Another power of the Prime Minister is the power over information and the distribution of it. For example, he decides whether or not to inform Parliament about government activities, and he also decides about the usage of the lobby system to inform the media. (b) Describe three factors that may limit the power of the Prime Minister (15 marks) A Prime Minister is generally a powerful position to be in, but there are certain factors that can limit this power. Firstly, and most importantly, the size of the government's majority in the Commons has a huge influence. For example, in 1997 Tony Blair's Labour government recorded an astonishing majority of 197 seats in the Lower House. This gave him huge control - he was able to pass laws without any effective opposition being able to reject Bills. ...read more.


Secondly, the increasing politicisation of the civil service, particularly its information services, is seen by many to be another way in which Blair is exercising Presidential powers. Whilst John Major only had eight special advisors, Tony Blair has twenty. Alistair Campbell's appointment after the 1997 election as the Prime Minister's official spokesman was clearly a political one. Yet, he is also a civil servant. It is this blurring of the boundaries between party politics and civil service neutrality that is cause for concern. In the same way, Thatcher had appointed Bernard Ingham as a 'press officer.' He was supposed to be independent of political parties, and yet he turned it into a personal role to suit Margaret Thatcher's view of world politics. Furthermore, the relegation of the role of the cabinet, and Blair's preference for dealing face to face with responsible ministers, raises serious questions. Margaret Thatcher was accused of doing the same thing. She frequently by-passed the formal cabinet, entrusting many important decisions to sub-committees. The demise of the British cabinet as an effective institution of government was pronounced as long ago as 1963, when the Labour MP (and later Cabinet Minister) claimed that the doctrine of 'collective responsibility' meant no more than 'collective obedience' to the will of the Prime Minister. ...read more.


Robin Cook and Clare Short both resigned on principle over Iraq. In September 2004, Work and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith - a known 'Brownite' - resigned before being sacked. Lastly, the behaviour of the Prime Minister strongly suggests a Presidential style of leadership. For example, it now seems that Tony Blair took Britain into the war against Iraq despite well-founded warnings from the Foreign Office, as well as strong misgivings from several ministers. Unlike the British Prime Minister, the US President is commander-in-chief of his armed forces, but any casual observer of the Falklands War would have been forgiven for thinking that Margaret Thatcher performed that role, and during the war on Iraq, the British Commander Queen Elizabeth was clearly absent from any role. Other observers might also note another huge similarity between Blair and Thatcher's leadership style - both had extremely close relationships with the US Presidents of the time, Thatcher with Ronald Reagan and Blair with George Bush. To conclude, in recent years Prime Minister's have become more 'Presidential-like' in recent years - especially in the case of Tony Blair. However, it is worth noting that our system does allow for a pure President. This is for two reasons - firstly, we have a constitutional monarchy who is Head of State. Finally, and most importantly, we do not have a separation of powers as is the case in a Presidential system - the executive is drawn straight from the legislature. ...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.

    They have also been used to send troops abroad, an example being the Grenada and Panama situations of the 1980's, when the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and the Constitution were successfully sidestepped. The British Prime Minister cannot expect to hold so much foreign influence, as the question of foreign

  2. The comparison of the US President and the British Prime Minister appears from the ...

    The President though, is not obliged to meet with his cabinet or consult them on policy, as cabinet is not a formal unit contained within the constitution. There is no doctrine of collective decision making, and the President holds the power of supreme decision maker when consulting cabinet and may

  1. Does Britain have a Prime Ministerial or Cabinet Government?

    Her dominating and aggressive personality made it almost impossible to argue with her and those that did often found their views ignored. When describing herself and her leadership style she once said 'I am not a consensus politician, I am a conviction politician'.

  2. Does the UK have a Prime Ministerial government?

    it ensures that they are very much under the power of the public opinion and that defines how powerful they are. For example, Brown was very much a weak Prime Minister in the sense of dictating policy as he simply didn't have enough public support or a large enough majority

  1. Government & Politics Revision Notes

    Supporters point out that MPs have sole responsibility for the area which they represent and once elected they represent all those who live in the area, not just those who voted for them. * Easy to understand- FPTP is easy to understand, everyone has a vote and the candidate with the most votes is the winner.

  2. Increase in Prime Ministerial power in recent years?

    electorate who are now more likely to focus on the head of government than the government as a whole; making him use his extended powers and more to try and keep his popularity with the electorate high. His introduction of weekly press conferences at Downing Street allowed the electorate to know what was happening in the government.

  1. Is it true to say that the UK now features Prime Ministerial rather than ...

    in her system and that's when she would have started to feel the power slip away. The ideological view of the way that a government should be run is similar to how Thatcher ran hers in the early years, the traditional way, where the Prime minister is basically the chief

  2. priministers power

    One such occasion concerns the dissolution of Parliament. o The Prime Minister and the media - In an age of instant telecommunications, the Prime Minister has become a media superstar, attracting enormous media attention. A significant part of the success or failure of Prime Ministers in the post-war period has

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