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Powers & Limitations of the Prime Minister What are the Powers of the Prime Minister? Are there Limitations to that Power?

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Presentation on theme: "Powers & Limitations of the Prime Minister What are the Powers of the Prime Minister? Are there Limitations to that Power?"— 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 opponents They can promote those with the same policy ideas PM Macmillan dismissed 24 Ministers in 1 day in 1962

3 The British Cabinet The 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 Committee The PM decides WHO sits on this & the ISSUES they deal with CRITICISM: 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 Judges The Head of the Armed Forces Chairman of the BBC All of these give the PM considerable influence

6 2) Control of the Government Agenda The PM has the power to control their agenda If 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’s Major – Introduction of Citizens Charter / Europe Blair – 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 departments Traditionally their role is neutral – This is changing

9 Civil Service A Vital PM power is to Appoint top civil Servants who advise Ministers and help them in the administration of the country Many 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 message This 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 Media He held monthly Press conferences to make himself accessible Today YouTube and Twitter also play a part

14 6) Emergency Powers Like other Countries, the UK PM also has emergency powers – the public will usually be supportive in times of National crisis  Falklands & Miners Strike

15 7) Peerages and Honours The PM also has it within their power to reward loyal service or achievement (or party support) with Honours This has been abused in the past and has become more regulated.

16 PM Aides PRIVATE OFFICE Staffed by key civil Servants- Makes sure the PM is kept organised and updated PRESS OFFICE Staffed by often powerful figures who control the message and access to the PM POLITICAL UNIT Deals with solely party Issues- a way of the PM Communicating with the party POLICY UNIT Gives the PM an Independent source Of ideas POLITICAL ADVISORS/ TASK FORCES Critical development with Unelected advisors Emerging in key positions

17 VARIED FACTORS Electoral Performance – Blair & Thatcher won 3 times! Policy Success – Thatcher – Privatisation/ Falkland War BUT Unpopular Poll tax weakened her.

18 VARIED FACTORS Opinion Polls – Major suffered from Bad polls / Blair had good polls Cabinet 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 opposition SIZE 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

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22 Variable Factors PM Personality: Thatcher and Blair were dominant personalities which helped. Major was not

23 Variable Factors State 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 Blair

24 LIMITS ON PM POWER Prime Ministers have been described as ‘dictators’ They do however have several Key limitations to their power….

25 1 ) PARTY LIMITATION The 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 problem Major 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 PM With Limited Control over House of Lords / Effective scrutiny powers in Committees/ Parliament CAN make life difficult for PM’s Examples: Maastricht Treaty and Major Westland 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 policies If a Minister does not agree they may be sacked / replaced or forced to resign A cabinet who are strongly opposed to a policy may cause a PM difficulty


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