British government system developed smoothly through the time. That is why it has very complicated and unique characteristics and features from the rest of the world. This essay will focus on executive brunch of British government. The main objective of this essay is to analyse whether Prime Minister is more powerful than British Cabinet. It will first explain and define what is meant by Cabinet and Prime Minister, followed by their roles and duties in government. It will then analyze and explain relationship between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. In conclusion, it will summarise key ideas and principles.
Prime Minister is a head of government whose power is secured in Britain from the leadership of largest party in the House of Commons. It is widely thought that Prime Minister is the most dominant figure in British government. The main goal of the Prime Minister is to direct and organize government policy and party manifesto. Certainly, Prime Minister has a very wide range of powers. The most important once are ability to appoint and dissolve ministers and senior civil servants, dissolve Parliament (choose timing of new general elections). The Cabinet is the country’s top executive committee. It usually contains about twenty or so ministers.
Since the House of Commons is elected house of Parliament, it can be expected that most of the ministers will be from House of Commons. There is no doubt that Cabinet itself may divide into two parts itself. The first part is “inner circle”. The “inner circle” is formed from few ministers, who are expected to consult Prime Minister more frequently than other ministers. The cabinet itself does not make many of the major policy decisions. The most important roles of the Cabinet are a full legitimate authority upon government decisions, formal approval of decisions, final court of appeal and crisis management (i. e. wars, large strikes etc).
The relationship between Prime Minister and the Cabinet is not simple and may vary form one Prime Minister to another. The major factors of this relationship are Prime Minister’s personality, current political situations and “random” events which can’t be controlled. As it was written above Prime Minister has lots of different powers. It will be useful to analyse few of them. The Prime Minister can appoint and discharge ministers. This may seem as one of the most important advantages of Prime Minister over the Cabinet. The ability to hire and fire makes it possible for Prime Minister to create loyal and trustful cabinet.
It also helps to discipline cabinet, because he/she can discharge any minister. However, on the second thought, Prime Minister has to choose the Cabinet from a particular party. This fact creates some serious constrains on Prime Minister’s power. First of all, Prime Minister has to please different sections of the party. That is why the Cabinet may contain potential or actual rivals for party leadership. It can be expected that the cabinet will contain few high calibre politicians whose discharge may possibly make serious damage to the government.
The other important factor is Prime Ministers personality. For instance, it is hard to believe that strong and pro-active prime ministers, such as Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher can be influenced by the cabinet. It is known, that the Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet. Thus he chooses the timing and topic of discussion. He/she may use different manipulative tactics to bounce ministers into a particular decision. The other complication is that because of the collective responsibility Ministers have to support all government decision in public or resign. Thus, it makes free debates less possible.
On the other hand, Ministers can seriously damage Prime Ministers reputation by resigning. This occurs because it will damage party discipline as well as public appearance of the government. For instance, Margaret Thatcher had to resign as a Prime Minister when her senior colleagues resigned their seats. Overall, it is hard to say whether Prime Minister is more influential than the Cabinet. This question is still open for a debate. However, it can be concluded that both Prime Minister and The Cabinet has opportunities to influence or balance each other.