Discuss How Two Pms Differed in Their Treatment and Use of the Cabinet

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Discuss how two Prime Ministers differed in their treatment and use of the cabinet (10 marks) A Prime Minister’s (PM) relationship and utilization of his/her cabinet can be an important factor in determining a successful premiership as PM. PMs over recent decades have differed in various ways in their treatment and use of the cabinet. Two examples of PMs who have contrasted in their approaches to their cabinet are John Major (PM from 1990-1997) and Tony Blair (PM from 1997-2007). John Major can be regarded as a more transactional leader, in the sense that he took a preference to a more collective cabinet; decisions would be made in cooperative meetings involving all cabinet ministers and there was room for compromise on certain issues discussed in Cabinet Office. In that regard, Major adopted a more collegiate style in his cabinet, making sure that all ministers had a contribution in the discussions at hand. In illustration of this, Major used cabinet meetings to merge factions in his party that were divided on certain issues. Major ultimately led a party that was divided in cabinet; forming factions of pro-Europeans and Eurosceptic ministers when discussing policy on Europe. A significant consequence of this more collective approach to his cabinet is that it was key to Major’s insurance in office; or what kept him in the role as PM for 6 years. In addition to his more collegiate style in office, Major did also share close ties with particular senior ministers during his term. As a result of working closely with colleagues such as Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke, Major managed to lessen the chances of a rival emerging for his job. Major can be regarded as a weaker PM over recent years to others; his majority in Parliament gradually depleted during the 90s, his poll ratings gradually declined, he was criticised for failing to put across a clear vision, was
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