In relation to the presidential roles the Prime Ministers roles have changed in some ways towards a British version of the American model. For example the Prime Ministers power of patronage has increased greatly, this can now rival the president who appoints over 4,000 officials. The appointment to such positions as the Lord Chancellor ensures that the Prime Minister is not only allowed a voice in the House of Lords, but he also has the opportunity to expand his power of patronage as the Lord Chancellor himself appoints several key positions within the judiciary.
In recent years the Prime minister has also had a better grip on the media and has more policymaking support. "Tony Blair seems to have made a significant start in further enhancing the policy-making and control functions of the PM"4 Critics of Blair's style of leadership have continually used Alistair Campbell, Blair's communications director as a source of bitter resentment. Campbell and Blair's relationship has been criticised for bringing about an age of spin doctoring and a "media class"5 where-by the public trust very little the government tells them.
Blair's relationship with the media through Campbell has led people again to draw comparisons of his role to that of the President. His regular meetings with members of the press and his weekly conferences with representatives of the press shows once more how Blair wishes to manipulate the media through good relations to get the best possible publicity. Campbell resigned in September 2003 which many hoped would lead to a decrease in the use of spin. Many have acknowledged Campbell's skills, while at the same time admitting how he ensured that Blair's presidential style graduated.
"Big personalities embody the period they dominate, of the nineties people will think of Campbell and Blair"6 An additional similarity between the two roles is the increasing appearance of the PM has a national leader. Thatcher and Blair have been used as examples when considering this point, Blair occasionally has the Union flag in the background when making speeches, as the president does with the stars and stripes. "Huge devotional pictures of Thatcher at Tory meetings, her endless taking of salutes on military occasions, her mother-of-the-nation act at national times of tragedy….
describe Thatchers premiership as.. Presidential"7 Foley has argued that elements such as spatial leadership, where the president detaches themselves from the legislature and the presidency has been seen in British leadership. An example of this is John Majors Citizens Charters initiative while Blair has disowned MP's before political corruption reports have been published which could have damaged the government. Foley declared that Presidents such as Nixon and Clinton claimed to be outsiders, not having vested interests of the Government insiders, this is true of PM's since Callaghan.
Thatcher kept in line with party policy and engaged in politics with Whitehall. Foley also analysed how both American presidents and British Prime ministers have appealed to the public over congress and parliament, relations with the public are now central. Finally Folly argued the PM is more presidential with particular personalities such as Thatcher and Blair. In contrast to these arguments is the difference between being head of state and head of government.
It is also acknowledged that the British Prime Minister, despite having a more flexible role within the constitution, still has several constraints which the president doesn't have to work within. These include the political party which the PM may be accountable to, for example they can only form a cabinet of party members which leaves competent opposition out of front bench positions. There is also a restriction of policy through fear of splitting a party clear examples include Europe for Major as well as Blair recent proposals for foundation hospitals.
The PM also has the threat of being removed by his party, the most notable is perhaps Thatcher's removal in 1990 "Her personal authority was ultimately over-stretched to the extent that her cabinet colleagues decided that she had gone too far. She paid the ultimate price and was removed from office"8 However Asquith was also removed by his party in 1916, as well as Lloyd George in 1922 and Chamberlain in 1940. Furthermore the Prime Minister has administrative and cabinet constraints to their policy making along with constraints implied by civil servants.
Recent examples include the significant opposition to Tony Blair's plans for foundation hospitals and university top up fees, both of which have come under criticism from the Labour party and do not receive full support from cabinet members such as Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister, in addition, has personal human constraints such as tiredness, for instance recent media speculation regarding Blair's health and considerations for his young family has been widespread. It has been said Thatcher was a workaholic working long hours into the night.
There is a momentous debate as to whether the PM has become a more presidential role. Within the British constitution it is possible for PM's to "stretch the powers of office" 9 and make the post their own. This explains why certain Prime ministers have had a clear influence on the role over others, such as Thatcher and Blair. It has been argued that the starting point for this change was World War Two when Churchill had nearly dictatorial powers, handed back after peace time.
His position had been artificially enhanced by war but it led the way for change. The debate is accentuated under Blair as he returned the question into consideration after Majors attempt at collective government. Most memorable, are Thatcher's years in government. She had a strong ideological commitment and dominated her colleagues mostly out of distrust. Her work ethic was considerable and this allowed her to spend much time at work on policies. She certainly didn't agree with cabinet government "I am the cabinet rebel"10.