With the rise in the professional politician many prefer to remain loyal in order to gain power and move up in the hierarchy as opposed to become a rebel who remains in the back benchers. This can be seen after the vote on tuition fees and the liberal democrats. Despite the fact that they had campaigned for this cause endlessly only 26 (including a few Conservatives) chose to vote against the bill. Whips play an important part in removing efficiency from Parliament. By having whips who ensure that MPs behave in accordance to the decisions of the executive both Parliaments ability to scrutinise and hold the executive to account is diminished, but also their role as representatives of their individual constituency is also compromised.
However there are cases in which the media has had positive effects on a Prime Minister’s popularity, such as “The Sun”, which, notably, turned its bias towards Tony Blair and the Labour party before their large win of 1997. Secondly, the cabinet is a large source of the Prime Minister’s power. Although the Prime Minister has the power to appoint and fire the members of his cabinet, these members have the authority to reject the Prime Minister; this was the case for Margaret Thatcher in 1990 after the leadership challenge by Michael Heseltine. The powers of the cabinet mean that a Prime Minister has to have significant support by the members to be able to receive the full amount of power. This source of power is also affected by members of the cabinet whom are too powerful and important to easily dismiss, most recently famous was during Tony Blair’s leadership, 1997 – 2007, and the pressure he received off Gordon Brown to leave.
Analyse the view that the Labour and Conservative parties are dominated by their respective leaders. In recent years there has been much debate as to whether party leaders have too much power over their parties. Many do believe that the two main party leaders in the UK do not dominate their parties as the structure of their party does not allow them to do so, but many more believe that party leaders have great authority over their parties and are fully committed to driving their parties policy with little delegation or use of their cabinet ministers. Historically the Conservative Party leader has been more powerful than the Labour Party leader. People believe this is down to the party’s history; the Labour Party originated from the trade union movement at the turn of the 20th century and originally had a chairman of the Labour MPs in the House of Commons, but no leader.
This agreement was set out between the two leaders that meant that a set number of standards had to be met for the coalition to be in agreement. One agreement between the two leaders was that a number of the Lib Dem MPs had to be present in the cabinet at all times. There was in the agreement, a principle that said there had to be 5 Lib Dem MPs in the cabinet at all times which should work on the basis that if a LD is reshuffled out then another should replace him. This significantly meant that a more formalised style of government in the form of cabinet meetings should be the practice to get used to. This formalised style meant that Nick Clegg and the other Lib Dem MPs could have a say in the policy that is implemented.
This is especially true since the role of parties as policy-making machines has gradually declined. As party leader the prime minister is also leader of his party in Parliament, so Parliament is also a source of his power. Finally, we can also say today that the prime minister enjoys the people’s mandate from the previous general election. The electorate, after all, vote for a leader as well as a party. All this means that a modern prime minister has great powers.
Hypothesis: Gordon Brown’s unpopularity cost Labour the election The situation in 2010 was different. Labour’s popularity and position in the polls had significantly worsened by the time Brown took over from Blair, and although Brown enjoyed a brief honeymoon period after his ascent to the leadership, his popularity soon began to wane, not least because of his vacillations over whether
Parliament may face difficulties in controlling executive power as the government usually has an overall majority. This is especially the case when there has been a creation of a large majority after elections such as 1997 and 2001 with Labour majorities of 179 and 167 respectively. Majorities of 66 in 2005 and 83 with the coalition in 2010 have also been recorded. This allows the government to claim a mandate from the people for its policies when it is elected to power. Therefore the parliament lacks the legitimate right to ignore the mandate and tends to accept the government’s right to govern.
Advisers have always received less accountability than MP’s as advisers do not represent constituencies which provide scrutiny, advisers on the other hand funnel accountability onto the Prime Minister such as Tony Blair. With this done, there is increased media attention on the Prime Minister. With increased attention on Prime Ministers, presidential factors such as style of leadership and charm come into play which are not requirements for Prime Ministers. These spin doctors have also been placed as advisers such as Steve Hilton who was known for working for David Cameron as a think tank. By replacing experienced civil servants with appointed advisers David Cameron created a customised department which suits him.
However, there are also informal powers which make Prime Minister much more important than their ‘constitutional’ role suggests. The Prime Minister has three important relationships: the cabinet, individual ministers and government departments, the Prime Minister’s party and, through it with Parliament and the people often through the mass media. These relationships explain how Prime Minsters can influence the government but also explains why the influence is provisional and subject to constraints. The Prime Minister does dominate the political system in the U.K as they chair the Cabinet where they can organise and make appointments to Cabinet committees. The Prime Minister can determine the number of cabinet meetings.
Although some things were carried out well under the Conservatives, there were many missed opportunities and mistakes under the 4 prime ministers. I think that some of the prime ministers contributed more to the ‘wasted years’ than others, notably Eden, who made mistakes with both the Suez Crisis and the EDC. I also think that Britain missing out on the EEC and Europe is one of the main reasons why these years were wasted. Once it became clear that Britain’s role in the world was declining, and her Empire was changing to a Commonwealth, I think that the Conservatives should have seen that as the reason to lean more towards Europe. Although our relations with America did improve, and have later proved to be very important, missing out on Europe was a major mistake.