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To What Extent Does Pm Dominate Uk Politics

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To what extent does the PM dominate the UK political system? Some say that the Britain has entered an era of elective dictatorship; this is when a government that is elected but has won so many votes that it can do what It likes1. In the UK we have a first past the post voting system so theoretically speaking once elected government can do as they please as they have been given the power to do so by the majority of voters who voted them in. The Prime Minister is the head of government and as head of the executive he has powers that can portray him as a dictator not someone representing the ideas of the general population. For example the conservative government introduced ‘the bedroom tax’ if this was David Cameron’s idea he has the power to ensure that his party vote for this law even if they disagree. In this essay I will evaluate evidence on how much the PM dominates the political system in the UK and conclude by giving my opinion on to what extent he controls the political system. The PM is head of the executive and seen as the most important figure of UK politics, with this comes powers and responsibility’s that arguably makes him the most powerful man in the country. The ability to hand pick your cabinet is a key factor on how much the PM controls the political system of, being able to choose who does what job in the country means the PM holds the careers and more importantly the livelihoods of the ministers in his hand because he has the ability to hire and fire ministers. For example after defeat in the vote on action in Syria David Cameron decided it was a time for a reshuffle of his government because 10 members of the Government are recorded as not having voted. 2Although this is an example of how the powers of the prime minister has not scared ministers into voting, the ability to fire ministers at will means the new ministers will then be looking to make a good impression on the PM by showing loyalty and agreeing to decisions even if they don’t believe that is the right thing to do. This power means in the long term the PM will always have ministers he is able to manipulate. However the PM is only able to fire ministers depending on the pool of talent at his disposal. In other words the PM can only fire ministers if there is a suitable replacement in his party that can take the ministers place. For example if the PM wanted to fire Patrick McLaughlin MP the Secretary of State for Transport he could only do so if someone had the skills to fill the void left if Partick was to be fired.

Another limitation on the PMs Dominance is that some ministers are too important to fire. There are members of the government who are in the public eye and held in high esteem by the media and general population, to fire a member of government who the public love would not be smart especially with an election coming up as it shows signs of bad leadership and the inability to handle members of your government with strong personalities. For example to fire Theresa may (Secretary of state for home department) would not be smart because she is always in the public eye and doing so could have a negative effect on how voters view you. This brings me on to my next point some members of government are to valuable. Take Nick Clegg for example if Cameron was to attempt to fire him he would lose the liberal democrats who vote in his favour which in turn limits this power because there is a coalition government David Cameron some may say is not as powerful as say Tony Blair who won on majority vote so he could influence all the labour members to vote in his favour.

Another way the PM dominates the political system is through the media, the media is the public’s easiest way to access politics through: the news, question time or through YouTube. The way the PM is viewed by the public is very important and although the PM may not always please the public but the Ability to speak in front of crowds and being able to motivate and galvanise through speech through speech can influence voters. For example Tony Blair is describe to have the passion, the ideas and the ability to motivate others3 having these qualities makes it much easier to be a dominant force as Prime Minister because the public view you as a leader they that you are in control, as I said in my first paragraph the actions of a prime minster must sometimes be actions a dictator would take so he can show his ability to lead giving them the power to do anything they want if they can convince the public it is the right thing to do. Some may say all publicity is good publicity but in terms of former Prime Minister Tony Blair he was able to lead labour for so long because of his ability to gain good publicity which in term influences voters this meant he became more powerful because he could get people to believe in his actions. However publicity from the media has limitations such as: if the PM gets negative publicity it can affect how the public view him and this could affect his power. For example in 2010 Gordon brown was named the most boring public speaker in England4 because of this brown was unable to motivate the public this made the public become delusional with his speeches. Speech writer Alan Stevens said: "Dire speeches don't inspire people.
"Well-crafted words, delivered with skill and passion, can transform the mood of a nation"5
From this it shows how the ability the speak in publics may be more important than they actually policies you are trying to implement because the public will get behind someone who can give them hope not someone who leaves them staring at the television bored out of there mind. In the current coalition government there are many limitations to the powers of the PM the main one being that the prime minister must give up five cabinet positions, and number of ministerial spots. It is the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, who decides which of his party’s MPs, will be appointed to those spots. 6 David Cameron does not have the ability to influence all of government because Nick Clegg is the Lib Dem leader so Cameron can’t force those ministers to vote on all his policies if Nick Clegg has the ability to stop them doing so. This therefore reduces David’s Cameron prerogative powers, some may say that this is good because it reduces the power of David Cameron therefore the idea of elected dictatorship becomes void because he can’t manipulate government because Nick Clegg acts as a block to the prime minister. Another way it reduces the PMs power is because Nick Clegg and his the ministers that are part of government do not have to support government policy in public and because of this the PM is seen to not have as much control over UK politics. This brings me to my next limitation which is party unity; however this could also enhance the powers of the PM. For example in recent times there have internal divisions 7in the conservative party. Members of Cameron’s party believe that the party will lose the next general election if he fails to 'reconnect' with party members8. If Cameron fails to do so it will show a lack of leadership and he could become the next john major and be pushed out of his party because he does not know how to motivate and inspire his party members. The ability to no bring party the party together limits his power because it means more members will rebel this in turn could mean the public will turn to the labour party to govern our country especially with a general election coming up. The final thing that affects the power of the prime minister is events. By this I mean the events that occur during a PM’s time in office. Prime Ministers are head of government and are judged by their party and the public on how they handle events and this effects the power of the prime minister in two ways. One way is that it can increase the power and dominance a PM has if the PM handles unforeseen events well it shows that the PM can adapt to the needs of the country. When Harold Macmillan was asked what he feared most as PM his response was 'Events, dear boy, events'."9. Tony Blair will be judged on how the Iraq war was started an event he did not foresee at the start of his term these unforeseen events are what define a prime minister and his legacy. In conclusion I believe the power the prime minister holds is too much for one man. With the power he holds he can dominate as long as he keeps the public voting so the stronger the prime minister the stronger the dominance will be. I believe the prime ministers ability to handle the media is the most important because it is the easiest way to communicate with the voters. If David Cameron can connect with the voters he will surly win the next general election because the ability to inspire a group of people is more effective than any manifesto will ever be. Britain needs someone who can lead.

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