Explain how the Prime Minister can control the Cabinet.

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Explain how the Prime Minister can control the Cabinet. [16]

While the Prime Minister is certainly the most visible and seemingly powerful member of Government, there is another element to make sure they don't have to govern alone. This is the Cabinet, a collection of up to 23 Ministers chosen by the Prime Minister.  Although supposedly only “Primus inter pares”, the Prime Minister enjoys a variety of powers that allow him or her to control cabinet. Writers such as Richard Crossman in the 1960s and Tony Benn in the 1980s (both former labour ministers) spoke of the increasing dominance of the Prime Minister within cabinet. They argued this was because of the centralisation of party machines and the civil service in the hands of the Prime Minister. Since then the media has further increased their attention on the Prime Minister. Cameron exercises more power over his cabinet now than ever before, because this is the first time he has had an 100% conservative cabinet.

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These powers include the patronage powers to hire, fire and reshuffle. When it comes to hiring the Prime Minister can select ministers to his advantage, choosing those who will make up the cabinet is considered to be one of the most important powers of the Prime Minister. For example, Blair favoured appointing other Blairites, some argue this was to supress the views of Brown. Prime Ministers also have the power to fire ministers for a variety of reasons, such as ministers failing to comply with collective responsibility. Examples include Michael Heseltine and his disagreement with the cabinet over the ...

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