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

What Limits Are There on The Power of The Prime Minister?

Extracts from this document...


What Limits Are There on The Power of The Prime Minister? It is now accepted that the most powerful individual in the British system of Government is the Prime Minister, currently Tony Blair. However, an argument that still exists involves the exact extent of the power exercised by the Prime Minister which is not very easy to calculate. A reason for this is that Prime Ministers, in the British system of Government do not govern alone. Many decisions are made by the cabinet (a group of ministers appointed by the Prime Minister) and most matters are discussed within the cabinet so it is possible to argue that the Prime Minister has very little individual power and that he has to share his power out. However, since the 1950's commentators have described an increase in the power of the Prime Minister, especially Crossman in 1962 (a cabinet member under Wilson) who argued that the Prime Minister had been taken on too much power in a diary and Benn who in 1979 referred to 'a system of personal rule in the very heart of our parliamentary democracy.' ...read more.


'The Prime Minister may be under pressure from colleagues or the media to appoint certain people to the cabinet. All Prime Ministers at least listen to advice from senior colleagues before making appointments. An important reason for this is for the Prime Minister to retain the support of the backbenchers in the party. This is very important as Margaret Thatcher realised in 1990 when she was forced to concede to the Cabinet on the decision to join the ERM after forming a rift with prominent misters such as Howe and Lawson and to their advice, she stood down from leadership contests in the same year. Another reason why the Prime Minister cannot do as he pleases with the Cabinet is because of the fear of being accused of being a dictator, the need to show he cares about the country in order to win elections and because press interest is extremely high and with the press hunting for a scandal, the Prime Minster's actions with and within the Cabinet are closely monitored. ...read more.


'Black Wednesday' where the value of the pound dropped rapidly was not actually Major's fault as the joining of the ERM happened in Thatcher's time and although against the wishes of Thatcher, with Thatcher's Government. John Major was very unlucky and since that day, nobody has trusted Conservative Government with finances. This shows other limitations on the Power of The Prime Minister such as personality, age, size of majority and as many Prime Ministers find out, luck. This is where it could be said that Prime Ministers are becoming too presidential and are being described as the cult of the outsider. A Prime Minister now needs to be charismatic like Thatcher and Blair. Size of Majority is also very important as Major discovered when there was a party split over issues such as Europe. Fortunately for Tony Blair, he currently has a huge majority in Parliament which does somewhat increase his power. However, the Prime Minister; primus inter pares, will always be the first among equals and as Burch said in 1990: 'it is simply beyond the ability of a single person, no matter how self-assured or single-minded, to be everywhere and know everything.' Ross Holden ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Leadership styles

    3 star(s)

    * It creates an environment of power versus perks. Democratic leadership - is a style of leadership where the leader maintains control of the group, but team members' opinions and views are encouraged and the leader informs the team about issues which may affect them.

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

    it would appear that the President is more powerful in foreign affairs and the Prime Minister, more dominant in domestic politics. However, the Prime Minister must also maintain the support of the legislature, whereas the president can govern without support here.

  1. Arguments that the British Prime Minister is an elective dictator are arrant nonsense. The ...

    In sum, the Prime Minister's powers to hire and fire government members, like many other features of the office, are a mixture of freedom and tight constraints. In reality the power exercised by the Prime Minister depends upon their own personality, the standing and attitude of the Cabinet members and intangible factors almost impossible to analyse7.

  2. priministers power

    John Major created the Heritage Department (re-named under Labour as the Ministry for Arts and Culture). The Prime Minister is responsible for appointments to the two most senior grades in the Home Civil Service (Permanent Secretary and Deputy Secretary) and for the highest positions in the Diplomatic Service.

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

    Notable examples of Parliamentary sovereignty include the removal of Chamberlain from power in 1940 as Parliament lost faith in him and some of his Cabinet The extension of the Westminster model from this premise was based on analysis of governmental and party politics, the growth in strength and coherency of

  2. The Increased Power of the Prime Minister

    regime has proven to become more presidential in style, which gave him much more power and authority that other Cabinet members - definitely not a first amongst equals, however is not a dictator as constraints against his power still do exist.

  1. How powerful is the Prime Minister?

    In the case of our current government the cabinet style of leadership certainly seems most apt. This style could clearly be seen in the run up to the 2010 spending review, where the cabinet discussed the proposed cuts at least nine times.

  2. Discuss the powers and constraints on the power of the Prime Minister

    Furthermore, ?the power of appointment and dismissal, can be, and is, used by the Prime Minister to shape the general and specific direction of policy, as Margaret Thatcher demonstrated in September 1981 when she reinforced her Governments commitment to its economic policy by dismissing several so called wets[5].

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