Is the Prime Minister now effectively a President? [40 marks]

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Is the Prime Minister now effectively a President? [40 marks]

The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the leader of parliament and the head of the legislature; a president is the official head of state of a country. In the past 40 years, the UK has seen a shift in the role of the prime minister—from Lady Thatcher to David Cameron, the role and responsibilities of the PM have changed from the traditional ones. These shifts beg the question: are PMs now just presidents, or has British politics evolved?

Margaret Thatcher can be seen as arguably the first ‘president’ to rule the UK; Tony Blair, another pioneer in the presidential shift. These two figures have something in common: they’re large parliamentary majorities. These majorities allowed them to establish themselves as the dominating leader of their governments. They did not need to worry about whether or not they’d be able to push through legislation; they had the majorities to get it done. However, both of these leaders’ tenures ended prior to an election and in both of their places were leaders who were not able to fill the boots their predecessors left behind. Major and Brown both faced unstable governments and weak parliamentary position. This shows that the UK premiership is not always president-like, it can only become that way with a strong leader and the right position in government. David Cameron’s coalition is another example of this, without the majorities of Thatcher and Blair he has been unable to dominate domestic politics and become the ‘president’ he would tries to be.

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Another reason the PM can be seen now as effectively a president is the media’s promotion of them. The PM is shown to be the figurehead of the government—as the president is in the US—which gives the same associations for the people of the country. It is they who represent our country at world meetings, who meet other heads of states and who is seen to be responsible for the government—which can be seen with the lack of popularity of Gordon Brown as he resided of the government suffering the credit crunch. Blair’s premiership is a great example of this; ...

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