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

How Powerful is British prime minister?

Extracts from this document...


How Powerful is British prime minister? The prime minister is that person who leads the majority party in the House of Commons, or who commands a majority of support in that house. PMs continue in office until they resign or concede a defeat after a general election. They also may reign after losing a motion of no confidence. In the 19th Century, Bagehot wrote (in the English constitution 1867), that parliamentary government had been superseded by Cabinet Government - that the theoretical sovereignty of parliament had been delegated to the executive for all practical purposes. The powers of government, and its cohesion under the convention of collective responsibility, ensured that the government could maintain a united front in the face of parliamentary opposition. Within such a system, the PM could be described as "primus inter pares" - first among equals - because, although he was the leading member of the government and its chief spokesman, it was the cabinet rather than the PM that dominated the decision making process. ...read more.


The PM heads the cabinet which comes from the majority party, and through party discipline the leadership can usually ensure that their backbenchers support the governments policies. In this way the government has virtual control over parliaments theoretical legal sovereignty. The powers of the PM are formidable, they cover the cabinet itself, the wider cabinet system and the party organisation: the PM is not only the head of government and its leading spokesman, but also the leading personality in the commons the instigator of important government policies and the representative of the government both home and abroad. However the dominance of the PM is not absolute, and there are significant limitations upon his powers. Britain is a pluralistic state and purports to be a democracy, where there is a system of parliamentary government and where the government remain responsible to the commons and ultimately to the people. ...read more.


the political, institutional, economic and international circumstances, but are also limited by the personality, effort and determination of the PM in relation to his colleagues. A PM like Home may have been similar to the 19th century "primus inter pares", but mrs Thatcher has displayed a strength of personality that represents a growth in PM power. However any PM in a modern government faces limitations from every sector of the government, the public and parliament, and PMs can only do what's feasible - as RAB Butler said "politics is the art of the possible". Neither "parliamentary government" nor cabinet government has ever existed in a pure form and equally prime ministerial government has its constraints. If mrs Thatcher at the peak of her influence signified the outer limits of prime ministerial power, john major saddled with a small parliamentary majority and a party bitterly divided over Europe, equally signifies the very real limitations a PM can be subject to. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics 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 GCSE Politics essays

  1. "The British Parliament is weak whereas the US Congress is powerful." Discuss.

    Congress has at its disposal a number of methods for overseeing the operations of administrative agencies - as part of this responsibility, known as oversight, Congress summons senior officials to answer questions from members, orders audits of agencies, and holds hearings on matters of general public concern.29 In addition to

  2. Is the President the Most Powerful Man In the World?

    Therefore, the president has to be in touch with public if he wants to remain popular and face re-election. Furthermore, although the President has the power to nominate Judges to the Surpreme court and to nominate executive branch officials, it is important to bear in mind that Congress has the ability to reject these nominees.


    ingenious in finding ways to get around it adding their own interpretation. JUDICIARY AND PARLIAMENT Finally, I am going to look at the separation of powers between the judiciary and Parliament. In reality we have more of a sharing of powers than a separation.

  2. Malta at the turn of the 19th Century.

    The Gozo were extremely well organised and had some contacts to whom they could ask help. By the arrival of Ball and Nelson, the latter being in charge of the blockade, helped to bring to an end the trouble in Gozo, by threatening that he would attack the French in the closed city.

  1. The prime minister n the cabinet

    If the prime minister does not have the support of the majority of his party he would have a problem as it would be very difficult for him to get any legislation through. Lastly his own party could force him out of Downing Street i.e.

  2. "The election of Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister in 1979, came about more because ...

    The economy was in a mess, with the biggest balance of payment deficit since the war. Industry had suffered from years of neglect and underinvestment and productivity was low. The rising price of oil, caused by problems in the Middle East had pushed up inflation.

  1. Prospects for India's development

    Bill in December 1999. At last, insurance monopolies by state ended and private and foreign enterprises are ready to participate. It seems to be a big leap forward in the Indian insurance sector. At the same time, there are already lots of questions as to whether the insurance sector reforms will bring benefits both to firms and consumers.

  2. How powerful was Britainin 1900?

    One important factor that helped Great Britain become as powerful as it initially did was its allies France and Russia had formed the Triple Entente. This was in reaction to the triple alliance and to keep Germany at bay, as they now had formed an alliance with Austria- Hungary.

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