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What is the role of the Prime Minister? DO NOW Read through the editorial from this Sunday’s Observer newspaper on the near-term consequences of the Scottish.

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Presentation on theme: "What is the role of the Prime Minister? DO NOW Read through the editorial from this Sunday’s Observer newspaper on the near-term consequences of the Scottish."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is the role of the Prime Minister? DO NOW Read through the editorial from this Sunday’s Observer newspaper on the near-term consequences of the Scottish Referendum. Try to identify: any issues relating to democratic accountability; any issues relating to the powers of Parliament or the Prime Minister. Highlight or write down any terms you don’t recognise and/or understand.

2 Written tasks to-date ‘The parliamentary system in the UK is significantly undemocratic.’ Discuss. (25) Using your own knowledge as well as the extract, identify and explain two ways in which MPs in Parliament ‘articulate the interests of different groups in society to government’. (10)

3 Feedback on your first essay Read the question – ‘Discuss’ implies engagement with both sides of a debate Key terms should be defined in a way that is not simply descriptive Points should be rather more specific than they are general and more developed than superficial Use evidence rather than speculation to support your key points

4 Feedback on your first essay Read the question – ‘Discuss’ implies engagement with both sides of a debate Key terms should be defined in a way that is not simply descriptive Points should be rather more specific than they are general and more developed than superficial Use evidence rather than speculation to support your key points

5 Where we (mostly) are... One thing that makes the UK undemocratic is declining political participation. The general public has declined its involvement in politics through elections, etc. Perhaps this is because the public only gets to vote every four or five years in the UK while in other countries the public’s opinion is expressed more often through referendums. Between 1956 and 2010 voting turnout fell by around 20% from around 85% to around 65%. This could be due to a number of reasons, but the common reason seems to be that people don’t feel that their votes or opinions count. Some people believe it is because politicians have a ‘lack of vision’ and don’t take their jobs seriously. The media is also to blame for telling the public that politics is all about ‘hype’.

6 Where we want to be... Declining political participation is often seen as a evidence of the UK’s flawed democracy. Voter turnout in general elections has been in decline since the 1950s. And membership of political parties has reached a historic low: less than one percent of the population now belongs to one of the three main national political parties. On both measures, engagement with politics is closely related to social and economic status and to age. Wealthier voters, ‘A’ and ‘B’ type voters, are significantly more likely to vote and—outside of the Labour Party’s link with the unions—to join a political party. The same is true of older voters, people over the age of 35. This suggests that political engagement is a function of people’s level of investment in society—those that have more of a stake in the social order, such as middle-aged, middle-class voters, take a more active role in politics. By contrast, the less well off and the young appear to see mainstream politics as less relevant to their wellbeing.

7 Feedback on your first essay Read the question – ‘Discuss’ implies engagement with both sides of a debate Key terms should be defined in a way that is not simply descriptive Points should be rather more specific than they are general and more developed than superficial Use evidence rather than speculation to support your key points

8 Learning objectives To describe the multiple roles of the British Prime Minister To explain the sources of and limits to the Prime Minister’s powers To evaluate when and why Prime Ministers have struggled to implement their policies

9 Executive (Prime minister & Cabinet) House of Commons Personnel Accountability The UK model of parliamentary government Electorate Legitimacy & Accountability House of Lords Supreme Court Accountability

10 Executive (Prime minister & Cabinet) House of Commons Personnel Accountability The UK model of parliamentary government Electorate Legitimacy & Accountability House of Lords Supreme Court Accountability

11 The core executive “The term ‘core executive’ refers to all those organizations and procedures which coordinate central government politics, and act as final arbiters of conflict between different parts of the government. In brief, the core executive is the heart of the machine, covering the complex web of institutions networks and practices surrounding the prime minister, cabinet, cabinet committees and their official counterparts, less formalised ministerial ‘clubs’ or meetings, bilateral negotiations and interdepartmental committees. It also includes coordinating departments, chiefly the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the Foreign Office, the law officers and the security and intelligence services.” R.A.W. Rhodes (1995)

12 By Friday, you must... Read the overview of how civil servants support government ministers (pp ) Research the staffing and key functions of any one of the following units: ‒The Prime Minister’s Private Office ‒The Cabinet Office ‒The Downing Street Policy Unit ‒The Treasury

13 Examination questions, ‘In theory, but not in practice, the powers of modern prime ministers are unlimited.’ Discuss. (25) ‘In modern times the prime minister, not the Cabinet, dominates the core executive.’ Discuss. (25) Evaluate the factors that can give the prime minister power over other cabinet members. (25) ‘Ministers have considerable power and opportunity to restrain a prime minister.’ Discuss. (25)

14 Spot the difference Prime ministers are... Heads of government Primus inter pares in Cabinet Elected members of Parliament Leaders of the legislature Not heads of department Presidents are... Heads of government and heads of state Run the Cabinet Directly elected Outside of the legislature Have a personal department

15 Has there always been a Prime Minster? Historians generally agree that the first politician who can be called a prime minister was Sir Robert Walpole (later the Earl of Oxford). Walpole held office from 1721 to 1742, under the Hanoverian kings George I and George II. Prior to Walpole’s appointment, monarchs had generally ruled directly, with a variety of ministers and other courtiers competing for their patronage. Robert Peel ( ) is regarded as the first politician to function as a modern prime minster. Benjamin Disraeli was the first politician to use the title Prime Minister (in 1878).

16 The Prime Minister: roles, responsibilities and key powers RoleDescriptionKey powersLimitations Chairperson The Prime Minister sets the agenda for the Cabinet and, by extension, for the wider government. (S)He dictates the order or policy meetings and decides what issues are discussed and when. Setting the policy agenda Party Public opinion Chief executive The Prime Minister appoints ministers, including to Cabinet posts, and determines how government departments should be organised. They are also the head of the Civil Service, which implements Government policy. Patronage Managing the machinery & personnel of government Cabinet Party Chief communicator The Prime Minister is the face of the Government--particularly in times of crisis. On issues such as Terrorism or Disasters they are the lead communicator on behalf of the Government. Influencing the National mood Public opinion Chief legislator The Prime Minister is the official overall spokesperson for the Government in Parliament. They answer questions in Parliament and can be decisive in pushing through legislation. Setting the legislative agenda Parliament Party Chief diplomatAs the head of the Government it is the Prime Minister that acts as the face of Britain Internationally, whether this is at the EU, NATO, UN or other organisations. Declare war Sign treaties Britain’s geopolitical and economic position

17 The PM’s power has evolved gradually as the result of the ASSIMILATION of the ROYAL PREROGATIVE POWERS. As the Monarch’s power declined, the role of prime minister developed to fill the vacuum. Powers exercised by the PM on behalf of the monarch, e.g. to declare war, make treaties, control the civil service, etc. Powers that have emerged through convention Powers based upon the PM’s role as leader of the largest party in the HOC. What are the sources of Prime ministerial power?

18 Case studies in prime ministerial power... and its limits 1)Margaret Thatcher’s attempt to introduce a Community Charge or ‘poll tax’ (1990) 2)John Major’s forcing through of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (1993) 3)Tony Blair’s attempt to introduce university ‘top-up’ fees (2004) 4)Gordon Brown’s attempt to impose discipline on his bank benchers in the run-up to the 2010 election rebellions-as-he-struggles-to-control-party.html 5)David Cameron’s attempt to build support for House of Lords’ reform (2012) rebellion-over-house-of-lords-reform html

19 Key questions 1)What ‘role’ was the Prime Minister playing? 2)What were the sources of power (s)he drew upon? 3)What were the limitations on Prime Ministerial power? 4)What was the outcome? 5)What lesson can we learn from this case study?

20 OTHER RESOURCES

21 How can MPs articulate the interests Asking parliamentary questions Speaking in the legislative process Serving on select committees Lobbying ministers Becoming recognised spokespeople for particular causes


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