The Prime Ministers Powers Of Patronage

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“The prime ministers powers of patronage increase his/her control over cabinet”

The modern Prime Minister of the United Kingdom wields broad executive and legislative powers. The incumbent leads a major political party, commands a majority in the House of Commons, and is the leader of the Cabinet. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation as in other democracies. Most of the powers that are exercised by the prime minister derive from the royal prerogatives. One of the main powers of the prime minister is the powers of patronage; there are many areas to the power of patronage, these being the appointment of ministers, the allocation of cabinet posts, the ability to reshuffle the cabinet and the ability to dismiss ministers from the cabinet. Two political commentators Bagehot and Crossman who have the ideas of primus inter pares and prime ministerial government.

Prime ministerial government is a government where the prime minister is dominant in terms of the executive. As the prime minister is, by definition, a member of a cabinet - this form of government is often a development from cabinet government. In true cabinet government the prime minister is primus inter pares, where prime ministerial government necessitates the crossing of this boundary. An often cited example of prime ministerial government is recent leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, have exercised leadership which circumvents cabinet. Thatcher began using bilateral meetings with individual ministers to determine policy areas using cabinet to simply announce these decisions. Due to the extent of her victory, and her control over cabinet positions, ministers were not as ready to question her as they may have otherwise been.

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The prime ministers powers of patronage extend to the appointment of cabinet members. This gives the prime minister a crucial advantage over colleagues in the cabinet. In theory, prime ministers can create a cabinet in their own image, rewarding supporters and penalising disloyal MPs. Following the 2005 general election, Tony Blair made changes to his ministerial team, such as moving Geoff Hoon from his position as defence secretary to be the leader of the House of Commons. In 1997 he also demonstrated his power by appointing Lord Irvine as chancellor and Peter Mandelson as minister without portfolio at the cabinet ...

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