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Given The Storm Of Events That

Given the storm of events that have occurred in UK politics of late, one might wonder if there was a more dangerous or volatile time to hold the office of British Prime Minister. Many would be right to argue that with today’s current political climate it is almost an impossible task to satisfy all parties involved. This essay will discuss how the power checks to the office of Prime Minister can limit the power they have. It will also look at the influence the media has on the Prime Ministers power and will discuss how the Prime Ministers role has become more centralised and presedential in nature and what effect that might have on their power. This essay’s central theme will argue that circumstance more than any other factor determines the true extent to the power the Prime Minister can wield. Using critical analysis to outline and determine the transitions and fluctuations of power that have occurred throughout the tenure of Prime Minister and importantly what leads to these changes.

many would expect no one Prime Minister in history to have more or lesser power than one before, but due to the non-statutory, uncodified constitution that exists within the United Kingdom, there is more room for maneuverability.

The Prime Minister must be held accountable by a delicate set of checks and balances, which exist to ensure the legitimacy and stability of the country. These checks and balances vary in importance and in nature but are vital to establishment. The Prime Minister serves as head of government but it is Parliament; itself comprising of the elected house of commons and the house of lords that along with her majesty the queen serves as sovereign to the people of Great Britain; parliament also serves as the legislature component for the United Kingdom. Without the support of parliament to some degree, the Prime Minister’s role as head of government would be untenable in that respect the UK exists as a fusion of legislative and executive functions. The Prime Minister must respect the dynamic equilibrium that exists between her power and the power of a united cabinet in which they have the power to dismiss and reshuffle however they see fit, also acting as the cabinet’s chair. The Prime Minister must also set up cabinet committees and appoint each one a chairman along with assigning and calculating the balance in distribution between departments and ministers. The position also demands that they ensure all ministers are made aware of and agree with the governments decisions and outlook. There cannot be an open difference in opinion between the Prime Minister and her cabinet ministers or this would diminish the PM’s power. Collective responsibility allows parliament to hold government to account, should collective cover be removed any policy failure will be seen as the fault of the minister. (Woodhouse, D. (1994). Ministers and parliament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp.1-24.)

An example of this would be the recent resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary along with Michael Gove from cabinet surrounding the Prime Ministers ‘Chequers’ approach to leaving the European Union. Johnson argued that he could not support the government’s position for the backstop plan with regards to Northern Ireland and continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for the period of transition. Johnsons move put significant pressure on Theresa May and her government and the divergence of opinion in her cabinet severly weakened her position as Prime Minister, throwing into question her role as Prime Minister and calls for Johnson to make a leadership bid. (MLA 8th Edition."Chequers, the unlikely survivor.The Brexit negotiations."The Economist.15 Sept.2018,p.64).

Moreover, the Prime Minister should embody the pinnacle of what the party in government can present and achieve; the chief debater, protagonist in overall charge of party organisation and strategy, able to make political capital out of their dealings with situations that arise. They must ensure that the government machine runs smoothly, that ministers make sound judgements and produce competent results. (James, S. (2002). British cabinet government. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, pp.88-95.)

If they are not up to that challenge, then it doesn’t take a lot for discontentment to set in. Tony Blair was seen as a beacon of hope when entering his premiership, a charismatic leader who would shift out the political stagnation of the last two decades by bringing about institutional reform. In his tenure as Prime Minister Britain went through a period of economic stability and massive investment and so many people associate their lives at that point with Tony Blair as leader. He had a massive amount of political weight behind his role largely because of cross-party support for legislation change and Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, which the public massively did not support which tainted his reputation immensely with people even today, more than a decade after he was in office. Theresa May provides a contrast as she took over from her predecessor during political turmoil and economic instability, she was seen as more of an administrator, not a leader in her own right. Many see her as a cold leader who has a lack of empathy which many cannot resonate with, an example would be the backlash that occurred after her handling of the Grenfell fire tragedy in which she did not meet with families of the victims until being pressured to so. (Bowie, D., 2017. Housing and planning politics after the general election. Planning in London, 102, pp.16-17.)

She has also been massively criticised for her governments hostile immigration policy which saw the ‘Windrush Scandal’ and the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary for her misleading of parliament. This massively effected the leadership May had in commanding government. (Boswell, C., 2018. Deportation targets in the Home Office: a long and troubled history. British Politics and Policy at LSE.)

The Prime Ministers power relies solely on the wider mandate from the public and from the majority of ministers within parliament. The circumstances to which they inherit can have a massive effect on the overall power of the position at that given time; this can be said for all of the Prime Ministers who have taken office in times of financial hardship for example, it is only natural that if wages do not rise in line with the cost of living this will cause a lot ill will towards the Prime Minister and their government. Having a weak opposition has allowed Theresa May to to capitalise on more she would usually be able to, smearing Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser takes the scrutiny away from her government. However in the same respect, choosing to hold an election in 2017 and losing her parliamentary majority against a weak opposition is more humiliation for May. Without a majority government in parliament her power has decreased significantly as she needs to make compromise where she is able to in order to get anything done.

The media holds key sway over the power of the Prime Minister, when faced with error of judgement or a divergence of opinion in government, the media will begin to whittle away the authority of the Prime Minister. This in itself is usually cyclical in nature, were the public become less satisfied with the state and in turn this leads to more news outlets channeling a negative opinion of Government and by extent the very power the Primi minister has at their disposal – usually turning into a downward spiral unless the PM is able to step up their game and deal with the fallout of the circumstances head on. Gordon Brown faced a media storm building up to the 2010 General election in which he called a member of the public a ‘bigot’ for raising concerns over immigration. The media were able to taint Brown’s power as leader of the country immeasurably by showing his dismissal of a constituents concerns.

A lot of the truth behind the PM’s power is simply down to where people interpret the power to lie at any given time and the media has a strong role in harnassing that less obvious observation. The media today continually gives airtime to the likes of Jacob Reese-Mogg and Anna Sourby who hold contrasting views to the way the direction of ‘brexit’ should be going which has whittled away May’s standing as Prime Minister and navigator of the negotiations.

Presedentialisation – differences, how role of PM has shifted, media has a role in change in debate (source)- TV debates, etc, etc, less about the other facets of power in UK, all about PM more a president than head of government, head of state

Many would be incorrect in their assumption to believe that no one Prime minister has technically more power than another to have taken office, in practice however they would be wrong. No one Prime Minister has ever been similar in their level of authority nor similar in their experiences in their premiership. Asquith in 1928 after his tenure said “The office of Prime Minister is what the holder chooses and is able to make of it” (Asquith, H.H., 1928. Memories and Reflexions, 1852-1927, by the Earl of Oxford and Asquith,… Vol. 1 [-2])

The UK constitution which above all else relies on convention, practical emphysis and precedent and the supremacy of parliament allows the Prime Minister to use this to their advangtage to maximise their influence. Objectively there is no way of measuring the extent to the power at the Prime Ministers disposal, despite this it is the belief of many political scientists that there is nothing which holds more gravity over the power the Prime Minister than circumstance. Whether that be the circumstantive events which unfold through the role of Prime Minister or the circumstance of character. The Prime minister is tested each and every day through their resolve and ability to navigate the course of least ruin.Given the storm of events that have occurred in UK politics of late, one might wonder if there was a more dangerous or volatile time to hold the office of British Prime Minister. Many would be right to argue that with today’s current political climate it is almost an impossible task to satisfy all parties involved. This essay will discuss how the power checks to the office of Prime Minister can limit the power they have. It will also look at the influence the media has on the Prime Ministers power and will discuss how the Prime Ministers role has become more centralised and presedential in nature and what effect that might have on their power. This essay’s central theme will argue that circumstance more than any other factor determines the true extent to the power the Prime Minister can wield. Using critical analysis to outline and determine the transitions and fluctuations of power that have occurred throughout the tenure of Prime Minister and importantly what leads to these changes.

many would expect no one Prime Minister in history to have more or lesser power than one before, but due to the non-statutory, uncodified constitution that exists within the United Kingdom, there is more room for maneuverability.

The Prime Minister must be held accountable by a delicate set of checks and balances, which exist to ensure the legitimacy and stability of the country. These checks and balances vary in importance and in nature but are vital to establishment. The Prime Minister serves as head of government but it is Parliament; itself comprising of the elected house of commons and the house of lords that along with her majesty the queen serves as sovereign to the people of Great Britain; parliament also serves as the legislature component for the United Kingdom. Without the support of parliament to some degree, the Prime Minister’s role as head of government would be untenable in that respect the UK exists as a fusion of legislative and executive functions. The Prime Minister must respect the dynamic equilibrium that exists between her power and the power of a united cabinet in which they have the power to dismiss and reshuffle however they see fit, also acting as the cabinet’s chair. The Prime Minister must also set up cabinet committees and appoint each one a chairman along with assigning and calculating the balance in distribution between departments and ministers. The position also demands that they ensure all ministers are made aware of and agree with the governments decisions and outlook. There cannot be an open difference in opinion between the Prime Minister and her cabinet ministers or this would diminish the PM’s power. Collective responsibility allows parliament to hold government to account, should collective cover be removed any policy failure will be seen as the fault of the minister. (Woodhouse, D. (1994). Ministers and parliament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp.1-24.)

An example of this would be the recent resignation of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary along with Michael Gove from cabinet surrounding the Prime Ministers ‘Chequers’ approach to leaving the European Union. Johnson argued that he could not support the government’s position for the backstop plan with regards to Northern Ireland and continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for the period of transition. Johnsons move put significant pressure on Theresa May and her government and the divergence of opinion in her cabinet severly weakened her position as Prime Minister, throwing into question her role as Prime Minister and calls for Johnson to make a leadership bid. (MLA 8th Edition."Chequers, the unlikely survivor.The Brexit negotiations."The Economist.15 Sept.2018,p.64).

Moreover, the Prime Minister should embody the pinnacle of what the party in government can present and achieve; the chief debater, protagonist in overall charge of party organisation and strategy, able to make political capital out of their dealings with situations that arise. They must ensure that the government machine runs smoothly, that ministers make sound judgements and produce competent results. (James, S. (2002). British cabinet government. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, pp.88-95.)

If they are not up to that challenge, then it doesn’t take a lot for discontentment to set in. Tony Blair was seen as a beacon of hope when entering his premiership, a charismatic leader who would shift out the political stagnation of the last two decades by bringing about institutional reform. In his tenure as Prime Minister Britain went through a period of economic stability and massive investment and so many people associate their lives at that point with Tony Blair as leader. He had a massive amount of political weight behind his role largely because of cross-party support for legislation change and Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, which the public massively did not support which tainted his reputation immensely with people even today, more than a decade after he was in office. Theresa May provides a contrast as she took over from her predecessor during political turmoil and economic instability, she was seen as more of an administrator, not a leader in her own right. Many see her as a cold leader who has a lack of empathy which many cannot resonate with, an example would be the backlash that occurred after her handling of the Grenfell fire tragedy in which she did not meet with families of the victims until being pressured to so. (Bowie, D., 2017. Housing and planning politics after the general election. Planning in London, 102, pp.16-17.)

She has also been massively criticised for her governments hostile immigration policy which saw the ‘Windrush Scandal’ and the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary for her misleading of parliament. This massively effected the leadership May had in commanding government. (Boswell, C., 2018. Deportation targets in the Home Office: a long and troubled history. British Politics and Policy at LSE.)

The Prime Ministers power relies solely on the wider mandate from the public and from the majority of ministers within parliament. The circumstances to which they inherit can have a massive effect on the overall power of the position at that given time; this can be said for all of the Prime Ministers who have taken office in times of financial hardship for example, it is only natural that if wages do not rise in line with the cost of living this will cause a lot ill will towards the Prime Minister and their government. Having a weak opposition has allowed Theresa May to to capitalise on more she would usually be able to, smearing Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser takes the scrutiny away from her government. However in the same respect, choosing to hold an election in 2017 and losing her parliamentary majority against a weak opposition is more humiliation for May. Without a majority government in parliament her power has decreased significantly as she needs to make compromise where she is able to in order to get anything done.

The media holds key sway over the power of the Prime Minister, when faced with error of judgement or a divergence of opinion in government, the media will begin to whittle away the authority of the Prime Minister. This in itself is usually cyclical in nature, were the public become less satisfied with the state and in turn this leads to more news outlets channeling a negative opinion of Government and by extent the very power the Primi minister has at their disposal – usually turning into a downward spiral unless the PM is able to step up their game and deal with the fallout of the circumstances head on. Gordon Brown faced a media storm building up to the 2010 General election in which he called a member of the public a ‘bigot’ for raising concerns over immigration. The media were able to taint Brown’s power as leader of the country immeasurably by showing his dismissal of a constituents concerns.

A lot of the truth behind the PM’s power is simply down to where people interpret the power to lie at any given time and the media has a strong role in harnassing that less obvious observation. The media today continually gives airtime to the likes of Jacob Reese-Mogg and Anna Sourby who hold contrasting views to the way the direction of ‘brexit’ should be going which has whittled away May’s standing as Prime Minister and navigator of the negotiations.

Presedentialisation – differences, how role of PM has shifted, media has a role in change in debate (source)- TV debates, etc, etc, less about the other facets of power in UK, all about PM more a president than head of government, head of state

Many would be incorrect in their assumption to believe that no one Prime minister has technically more power than another to have taken office, in practice however they would be wrong. No one Prime Minister has ever been similar in their level of authority nor similar in their experiences in their premiership. Asquith in 1928 after his tenure said “The office of Prime Minister is what the holder chooses and is able to make of it” (Asquith, H.H., 1928. Memories and Reflexions, 1852-1927, by the Earl of Oxford and Asquith,… Vol. 1 [-2])

The UK constitution which above all else relies on convention, practical emphysis and precedent and the supremacy of parliament allows the Prime Minister to use this to their advangtage to maximise their influence. Objectively there is no way of measuring the extent to the power at the Prime Ministers disposal, despite this it is the belief of many political scientists that there is nothing which holds more gravity over the power the Prime Minister than circumstance. Whether that be the circumstantive events which unfold through the role of Prime Minister or the circumstance of character. The Prime minister is tested each and every day through their resolve and ability to navigate the course of least ruin.