CONSIDERATION IN MARKING
To what extent is the prime minister first among equals?
This essay will compare the prime ministerial styles of Thatcher and Blair and compare presidential styles to collective cabinet government. It explains what can happen when a prime minister has too much power and is more than just first among equals. It concludes that in recent years the prime minster has exerted too much power and is ignoring his cabinet.
By the 1830s the Westminster system of what we now as cabinet government emerged. The head of the government is the prime minister. Leech et al define the prime minister as: “A head of government whose power normally derives in Britain from leadership of the largest party in the legislature,…show more content… Mo Mowlem and Clare Short were secretly annoyed and frustrated about cabinet meetings and discussions and also the allowance of a spin doctors to attend cabinet meetings (Heffernan, 2006 as cited in Casey 2009). Short later stated there was “no collective just diktats” (BBC News Online, 2003). Weller (2003) argued this led to questions as to where government fitted in within Thatcher and Blair’s respective times in power. Weller (2003) further stated Thatcher did not want a cabinet by committee but government by her with selected ministers. Coxell et al (1997) give an example of Thatcher’s power when she ignored the advice from the top military advisors and chose to deploy troops to the Falklands. Furthermore, in 1986 she allowed the USA to use British military bases to bomb Libya, it later emerged the defence secretary of the time George Younger and the cabinet had no knowledge of this arrangement with the USA.
At present we have a coalition government in power. Leech et al state that in practice prime ministerial power may vary based on the individual prime minister who has the ability to exploit his cabinet (pp.201-205). This can clearly be seen in our current coalition government. Cameron does not have the political power to exploit his government as he needs to please his party. However, in Cameron’s case this also includes the party which he is in coalition with. Therefore, the prime minister has to include others