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How Poweful Is the Pm?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By padsbrown
Words 1448
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The PM is the most powerful person within the British political system, so believe he is now more powerful than ever due to his increased use of royal prerogative powers. The PM is powerful because he is head of the cabinet, including individual ministers and departments. But as important The PM is powerful in the sense that he was the ability to appoint cabinet ministers, dismiss them, promote and demote all ministers in government. He can select around 100 politicians from Commons and the Lords but can demote ministers in government such as Secretaries of States. The PM elects ministers who strongly support his ideologies or support his policies are appointed to respectable positions, whilst inner party opposition peers are selected to junior ministerial roles. These ‘opposition peers’ are often members of factions, in the Conservatives case that could be the “1922 Committee”. The PM can therefore influence their political careers and if careless actions occur this can lead to the end of that career. In October 2013, David Cameron had a cabinet reshuffle and of junior ministerial roles. For example, Baroness Warsi left the role as Tory Party co-chairman and was replaced by Grant Shapps. Andrew Langsley, a well-known MP who was part of the expenses scandal moved to lower profile roles. This would have been done in order to protect the reputation of him, as he wouldn’t want the electorate to think that troublesome/careless ministers still had a large influence in cabinet. However, certain cabinet members can possess a high level of power if they have a high public profile, as was the case with John Prescott during the Blair Government. It is in the best interests of the PM to conciliate key cabinet colleagues as resignations can be extremely damaging to the PM publically as the electorate might interpretate it that maybe the PM isn’t in harmony with his peers. The current PM David Cameron is unable to wield the power of backing to its full extent as the coalition means he is unable to sack Liberal Democrat ministers. He must discuss with the Deputy PM Nick Clegg who he will appoint into cabinet and this is more time consuming than if it was a single party in government, as Cameron must make compromises with Clegg.
The PM can also be described as powerful due to an increase in the amount of information being passed onto the electorate either through TV, radio, newspapers or internet, this gives the PM a greater ability to influence. The media also like to focus on mainly the political leaders of the UK therefore making the PM powerful, this gives the PM the ability to appear ‘over the heads’ of their parties and governments. Prime Ministers also have the power to control the flow of information to the public through the increased use of special advisors. The PM can control how the media portray him through their uses of communication. If this ‘picture’ is a negative one then he will become a liability and he will lose support and won’t be elected in the next general election. The way the media portrayed Gordon Brown had been said to damage his election campaign because the media believed that he “couldn’t smile.” In more recent years ministers reputations have been destroyed through the media by them telling the electorate of various scandals such as that of Chris Huhne, who was Secretary Of State For Energy at the start of the Coalition Government and was found out to be avoiding speeding points being put on his license. A significant factor to suggest that the PM is powerful is that he has prerogative powers from the Queen. The most significant power of this is that the PM is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. This is a role that is exercised on behalf of the monarch who is no longer permitted to become involved with such matters except on a purely ceremonial level. It is the decision of the PM and his alone whether or not to commit British troops to battle or to any other role. He may, of course, seek much advice, but he has the final say. This power to commit troops to a campaign and having the final say makes the PM extremely powerful. For example Tony Blair committed British forces to action in Kosovo in 1998 to protect the Muslin population from ethnic cleansing, in Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban regime, in Sierra Leone in 2002 to protect the democratic government from a rebellion and most famously, in Iraq in 2003 to topple. We can also say that the PM has responsibilities to maintain national security. This means directly controlling the intelligence and counter terrorism services as well as assuming emergency powers in time of emergency such as war. It is in the nature of such actions that they are usually secret, but we know the PM is often required to make key decisions about which we here nothing. However, in Cameron’s case he now won’t make decisions without government approval such as whether to go to Syria. This would make decisions more legitimate as more politicians are making decisions. We said that only the PM can make decisions however, the House of Lords could amend his decisions. Policy Leadership can be said to be a minor factor that makes the PM powerful. Although this role is clearly shared to some extent with other ministers, with cabinet and with his party, there is no doubt that the PM is completely pre-eminent in making the government’s policy. The fact that he must seek wider spread of approval for much of what he decides does not alter his policy. However, there are limitations to this. The PM must delegate decisions and also must have full support of the cabinet, which with a coalition government would be much harder as there will be a clash of ideologies. Its stated that the PM is the chief policy maker during the 3rd Blair government, Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer decided on the economic polices that the government would carry out and it wasn’t up to Tony Blair to decide the economic policies. This shows that if other ministers start to make more of their own policies the PM will start to become less powerful but as this is a minor factor this wouldn’t massively affect the overall power of the PM. Management of government is another factor that can determine how powerful a PM is. The PM chooses priorities and focuses on that. The PM is in charge of the machinery of the government. He can create new posts and new departments as well as abolish them, establish committees and policy units and amalgamate existing ones. It also means he is head of the civil service and can seek advice from its vast machinery. As we have seen above too, he chairs cabinet meetings, determines their agenda and controlling the system of cabinet committees that underpins it. But above all it includes the task of determining which individual should hold posts as ministers, senior judges and senior bishops and archbishops of the Church of England. The appointments to cabinet determine how powerful the PM is. However, with a coalition in government its harder for the PM. His power is diluted because with the Liberal Democrats he must make compromised decisions and appointments meaning his potential to exert power is diluted. For example, he must include Liberal Democrats into the cabinet such as Danny Alexander and Vince Cable. A minor factor that determines the PM’s power is foreign relations. He must maintain past relations with other countries and ensure that there is stability within world politics. With discussions with other countries he must liaise with other countries. He must also represent the country at international conferences and meetings. He must also sign international treaties such as Lisbon (2005) or Nice (2001). In late 2013 the PM and other delegates travelled to China on a business trip in order to promote the UK economy, this examples shows how the PM represents the UK on an international basis. It is fair to say that the Prime Minister’s powers are now largely informal as oppose to formal. This includes persuading and debating, and building and maintaining relationships as opposing to dictating. Although many factors play an important part in the power of a Prime Minister, for example how big his/her majority is in the House of Commons and the power of patronage. It is ultimately down to the leadership style and personality of a Prime Minister, which truly determines if they are powerful, or not.…...

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