Presentation on theme: "Powers & Limitations of the Prime Minister"— Presentation transcript:
1 Powers & Limitations of the Prime Minister What are the Powers of the Prime Minister?Are there Limitations to that Power?
2 1) Appointment & Dismissal of Ministers This is often viewed as the most important PM power.It enables them:- To reward Loyalty- To dismiss Rivals- To keep an eye on opponentsThey can promote those with the same policy ideasPM Macmillan dismissed 24 Ministers in 1 day in 1962
3 The British CabinetThe Cabinet is a group of key Ministers that make up the ‘Government’A Prime Minister can promote / dismiss into the Cabinet
4 Appointment of Cabinet Committees Key Decisions and policies are increasingly made in small groups of Ministers working in the Cabinet CommitteeThe PM decides WHO sits on this & the ISSUES they deal withCRITICISM: Is it fair that a small group of people have so much power?
5 Other Appointments The PM can also appoint many other KEY OFFICIALS. Top JudgesThe Head of the Armed ForcesChairman of the BBCAll of these give the PM considerable influence
6 2) Control of the Government Agenda The PM has the power to control their agendaIf they feel Northern Ireland is important they can adjust their agenda – ie Brown and Hillsborough Talks
7 Government Agenda Other Examples Thatcher – Privatisation of nationalised industries in the 1980’sMajor – Introduction of Citizens Charter / EuropeBlair – New Labour ideas
8 3) Control of the Civil Service The Civil Service is the crucial administrative structure helping to Govern the Country.Thousands of Civil Servants run key Government departmentsTraditionally their role is neutral – This is changing
9 Civil ServiceA Vital PM power is to Appoint top civil Servants who advise Ministers and help them in the administration of the countryMany argue that Thatcher and Blair ‘Politicised’ the Civil Service by having too much influence over appointments
10 4) Control of Parliament This power is variable on the election results.Blair’s huge majority gives him greater control than Majors for example.
11 The PM can appoint 1)The Leader of the HOC’s and 2) The Leader of the HOL’s He also appoints the CHIEF WHIP – They are responsible for ensuring the Governments wishes are carried out
12 5) Influence over the Media Some Prime Ministers prove much better than others at managing the Media.Blair was superb with ‘Spin Doctors’ employed to give out the right media messageThis would also tarnish his image
13 Blair used powerful images and Spin to get the right message across He employed Media managers like Alister Campbell to handle the MediaHe held monthly Press conferences to make himself accessibleToday YouTube and Twitter also play a part
14 6) Emergency PowersLike other Countries, the UK PM also has emergency powers – the public will usually be supportive in times of National crisisFalklands & Miners Strike
15 7) Peerages and HonoursThe PM also has it within their power to reward loyal service or achievement (or party support) with HonoursThis has been abused in the past and has become more regulated.
16 PM Aides POLITICAL ADVISORS/ TASK FORCES Critical development with Unelected advisorsEmerging in key positionsPRIVATE OFFICEStaffed by key civilServants- Makes sure thePM is kept organisedand updatedPM AidesPRESS OFFICEStaffed by often powerfulfigures who controlthe message andaccess to the PMPOLITICAL UNITDeals with solely partyIssues- a way of the PMCommunicating with thepartyPOLICY UNITGives the PM anIndependent sourceOf ideas
17 VARIED FACTORS Electoral Performance – Blair & Thatcher won 3 times! Policy Success – Thatcher – Privatisation/ Falkland War BUT Unpopular Poll tax weakened her.
18 VARIED FACTORSOpinion Polls – Major suffered from Bad polls / Blair had good pollsCabinet Influence – Thatcher controlled her cabinet – but this led to turning its back on her / Blair insisted on Cabinet obedience
19 Variable factors (continued) PARTY SUPPORT – Major was plagued with backbench rivalry and opposition / Even Blair had some backbench oppositionSIZE OF MAJORITY – Blair passed his bills easily due to his huge majority / Major sometimes relied on smaller parties
20 Variable factors (continued) MEDIA SUPPORT/OPPOSITION ; The Sun newspaper supported Major in the 1992 election – and claimed they helped him win!Blair controlled the Media very well
22 Variable FactorsPM Personality: Thatcher and Blair were dominant personalities which helped. Major was not
23 Variable FactorsState of Economy: A healthy economy will help you win?In 1992 Britain was in a bad economic position under John Major- Major won! In1997 Majors economy was very strong- He lost to Blair19921997
24 LIMITS ON PM POWERPrime Ministers have been described as ‘dictators’ They do however have several Key limitations to their power….
25 1 ) PARTY LIMITATIONThe PM’s party usually supports their PM completely….However there have been occasions when this has not happened:Thatcher – Conservative MPs rejected her in 1990 believing she was now an electoral problemMajor was unable to pass the Legislation he wanted due to ‘backbench rebels’Blair had to rethink policies on Child Benefit and Fuel tax due to backbench pressure.
26 2) PUBLIC OPINION Public opinion is unpredictable It prevents PM’s from being TOO radical –examples:- Health reforms are necessary but may cause a public backlash- Blair was also wanting to move on the Euro and European Constitution but restricted as they are unpopular issues- Thatcher had to drop the Poll tax over public opinion
27 3) PARLIAMENT Parliament is SOVEREIGN – (All powerful) It has the POTENTIAL power to remove any PMWith Limited Control over House of Lords / Effective scrutiny powers in Committees/ Parliament CAN make life difficult for PM’sExamples: Maastricht Treaty and MajorWestland helicopters and Thatcher.
28 4) CABINET Cabinet power can vary considerably The PM’s ability to control it can depend on variable factors.Blair had control of his cabinet up to 2005 ; Major Struggled to control his
29 Prime Ministers have no department of their own They rely on their Ministers to carry out their policiesIf a Minister does not agree they may be sacked / replaced or forced to resignA cabinet who are strongly opposed to a policy may cause a PM difficulty