(5) What are the constraints on a PM?

Marcus  Danvers
Mind Map by Marcus Danvers, updated more than 1 year ago
Marcus  Danvers
Created by Marcus Danvers about 6 years ago
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A level Governing the UK - 2C (PM, Cabinet and the Executive) Mind Map on (5) What are the constraints on a PM?, created by Marcus Danvers on 01/23/2014.

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(5) What are the constraints on a PM?
1 Cabinet
1.1 The political "weight" of a cabinet minister is determined by free factor:
1.1.1 The seniority of his or her office
1.1.2 His or her standing within the party
1.1.3 His or her public profile
1.2 The influence of the cabinet is most clearly reflected in the power that can be wielded by leading individual minister, the "big beasts"
1.3 Thatchers public image and standing within the party were damaged by resignation:
1.3.1 Michael Heseltine (Defence Secretary) 1986
1.3.2 Nigel Lawson (Chancellor) 1989
1.3.3 Geoffrey Howe (Deputy Prime) 1990
1.3.4 She survived each of these resignation, they provide context for her eventual downfall in December 1990
1.4 Blair was alleged forced to give Brown the position of Chancellor in 1997-2007 because Brown was not going to stand for leadership in 1994 election
1.4.1 This deal was made because of Browns high standing in the party meaning he could have won
2 Party leadership
2.1 This Prime Minster party support is conditional.
2.1.1 In partial parties look to PM to provide leadership that will help to maintain party unity and ensure the party electoral success.
2.2 The most dramatic example of this was the fall of Thatcher. The key factor in the removal of Thatcher was her failure to win sufficient supportfrom MP's in the leadership election
2.2.1 Backbencher support was lost over europe and poll tax
2.3 John Major's premiership was blight by deepening tensions with in the Conservative Party over Europe. Having tried to place the UK "at the heart of Europe",
2.4 Blair's authority over the Labour party declined significantly after the Iraq war in 2003
2.4.1 This stimulated the largest backbench rebellion against any government for over 100 years
2.5 In Browns first month as PM, Brown suffered back 8 backbenchers rebellion, more than the total number of revolts against all incoming PM in their first month since 1945
3 Electorate
3.1 The Prime minster relation ship with the public is usually a major strength, but it can also be a source of vulnerability.
3.1.1 In a sense, the state of public opinion underpins all the other constraints on the PM.
3.1.2 When government popular dips, and if the chances of winning the next election are thrown into doubt, life becomes much more difficult for the PM
3.2 For example Thatchers vulnerability in the late 1980's coincided with declining poll ratings and early signs of improved support for Labour Party
3.3 Major's control of his party was damaged by a succession of by-election defects and defeats in local and European Parliament election.
3.4 Blair's authority over his party and his government was weakened by Labour's reduced majority in 2005
3.4.1 Blair in fact, persuaded him self to pre-announce his resignation- meaning he was a "lame duck"
3.5 Browns stature of PM was badly damaged in October 2007 by confused messages over the likely timing of the next GE the "election that never was"
4 Media
4.1 The PM realtion with the press is in fact rarely direct.
4.1.1 Instead, his or her image is presented to the through the "prism " of the mass media.
4.2 While PM have tried to exploit their access to the media for personal benefit, there are also indications that the media is becoming more critical of politicians generally and more difficult to manage
4.3 Blair government and the BBC had battles over allegations that, in the run-up to the Iraq War, the government had "sexed up" a dossier emphasizing the military threat posed by Iraq to the UK.
4.4 The relationship between the PM and the media nevertheless reached a particular low under Brown
4.4.1 It was widely argued that brown lacked the communication and presentational skills to be successful modern leader
4.5 The media's coverage of politics had become more difficult for the PM to manage for the following reasons:
4.5.1 A tendency to "hype"
4.5.1.1 Increasingly intense commercial pressure force the media to make their coverage of politics "sexy" and attention grabbing
4.5.2 The blurring of facts and interpretation
4.5.2.1 The coverage of news and current affairs had changed in recent years. The media now blurres the difference between the news and the comments, as an attempt to define "the story"
4.5.3 Television increasingly follows the print media in its style of political and current affairs coverage
4.5.3.1 This means not only that television stories are picked up from newspaper headlines, but that this has also affected the style of current affairs coverage on television.
5 Pressure of events
5.1 The PM has limited control over "what happens". In theory, the PM "runs the country", but in practice suprises come along that demonstrate how little control they actually have
5.2 Thatcher "initiated" the Falklands War of 1982, and considerably benefited from the victory; but, had the outcome been different, her premiership may have been destroyed
5.3 John Major was less fortunate over "Black Wednesday", 16 September 1992, when intensifying currency speculation finally forced the UK to leave the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM).
5.4 Blair's public reputation was badly damaged by the suicide of David Kelly, a biological war expert who contributed to the development of the government Iraq military war dossier in 2003
5.4.1 His dealh substantially intensified media and political speculation about the basis on which the decision to go to war was made
5.5 In the case of Brown, his reputation for effective leadership and economic competence was destroyed by the recession that started in 2008, despite his robust response to the Global financial crisis that had precipitated it.
5.6 In many ways, the problem of "events" is a structural one not merely a question of random surprises. This occurs in three main ways:
5.6.1 Prime minister only control top-level decisions
5.6.1.1 The implementaion of decisions is in the hands of bodies and actors over whom PM's have very little direct control
5.6.1.1.1 For example, the effectiveness of welfare reforms is affected by decitions taken by people such as hospital mangers, doctors, head teachers
5.6.2 The growth of presidentialism has over-stretched the PM's breadth of interests
5.6.2.1 PM's are now expected to speak out on all important question domestic and international, and they are held responsible for blunders and mistakes whenever they may occur
5.6.3 Prime ministerial power may be counter-productive
5.6.3.1 The ability of PM's to react appropriately to political events may be impaired by their increasing reliance on close confidants and hand-picked advisors - not exposed to a wide range of views
5.6.3.1.1 Example of PM's losing their political "touch": are Thatcher introduced the poll tax and Blair's stubborn determination to support the USA in Iraq
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