What factors do Prime Ministers take into account when choosing their cabinets

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a) What is Cabinet Government? 5

Cabinet Government is the view that cabinet have the main power throughout the whole of government, rather than all the members and MPs within the government. It means that all the major issues can be debated, as it will concern all sectors, and the topic maybe controversial. Cabinet allows policies to be discussed before coming to a collective agreement.

b) What factors do Prime Ministers take into account when choosing their cabinets? 15

I think the most important attribute that a cabinet minister should have a variety of support. He should have this from three main sets of people. The first is from politicians and backbenchers. If a cabinet member is respected throughout his or her party and has the views of many MPs, it would be a good idea to have them in your cabinet. An excellent example of this is John Prescott, who is Deputy PM, and was voted to this position by the Labour party. This means that the party can have a better view of the publics’ perception on topics, which will lead to it making more popular decisions. Another set of people cabinet must be supported by, is the public, showing that they seem relatively in touch with the electorate, i.e. young man with a family, not the typical old MP.

The final set of people who need to encourage ministers, is the media. The influential body at elections can often swing the polls and dictate how people think and vote, because for most people, the newspapers and the news is the only insight they get about politics. The media can create and mould the profile of MPs so that they become popular with the public, so that the idea corresponds to the new point of the image they will project about the party. This means if they are relatively young then they will seem in touch with people. It is also good to have these figures as it is said that the public now spend more of their interest in politicians, rather than policy.

Another factor, which the PM should consider, is the strength of the person. This means that once they made up their mind on an idea they should be decisive. A good example of this is Gordon Brown, “The Iron Chancellor”, who is seen as a strong member of the cabinet and government. Another factor could be whether the PM feels they will be loyal towards him. If he feels that the person will back stab him it is highly unlikely he will appoint them into the cabinet.

On top of these factors a PM should think about the ability to organise large departments, as this will be a large chunk of his or her job, as well as be able to debate well in parliament and in cabinet. I think if a person within the government can do all these things they have a good chance of getting into cabinet.

c) Is cabinet government or Prime Ministerial government a more accurate description of the British system of government? 30

It is debatable which of these is currently upheld in the British system but many people may feel that it is the cabinet government, which is a more accurate description of the British system of government. People feel this is, because the government cannot surely make large decisions without consulting his cabinet and letting them discuss the topic primarily. Also if it is not discussed within cabinet it will not be seen how it will affect the other main ministerial departments, e.g. if the PM wanted to alter the tax rate, then it would be essential it was discussed within cabinet as a change in tax would have a knock on effect on each individual department, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Also if a topic is discussed within the rest of cabinet, then it means the ideas of about 20 people can be brought up, rather than just the individual PM. I also think it means that if the idea goes completely wrong then the blame can be spread throughout the government, rather than pin-pointing it back to an individual. Also in cabinet, if you consult all the members then you are likely to have an overall view of the whole of that party and possibly some other parties as well. Another reason why people may argue that this happens in the British system, could be because they feel that surely the PM cannot keep up to date with all his current affairs in Europe and America, and still have enough time to overlook individual departments. It is also questionable whether the PM knows sufficient details to comment on the major topics effectively, with all the other jobs surrounding him.

However some people may feel that the British system is infact a Prime Ministerial government. This means that the main ideas are not discussed within cabinet, but instead Tony Blair, or any PM, will make the decision without consulting. It will also mean that if the PM wants a certain bit of legislation to be passed, and then the cabinet cannot stand in his way. A good example of this is The Millennium Dome. Many of the cabinet opposed the idea of the Dome, yet despite this Tony Blair made sure that it was given the government funding it needed. The Dome was not a success, and people began to doubt the Labour Party. Labour had carried this idea out, because they knew if it didn’t work as intended, they could blame it on the previous government. This shows how the PM can get his way, even if cabinet do not agree.

Another good example is when Tony Blair announced that the government would no longer be setting the interest rates, but instead the Bank Of England would be. This was not discussed within cabinet, with the exception of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think that a topic of this size should have been discussed within cabinet first, as I personally believe it is a highly important matter, as it will decide on peoples spending patterns. i.e. if interest rates are high then people will spend less of their disposable income, and therefore the government will receive less revenue via taxes. This will in turn affect each government sector, as less funding will be available.

I personally think that the British political system is mainly Cabinet Government. The main reason I can think of is because the PM does not have enough time to carry out all of his roles, and then be able to know enough about all other issues, so much so that he doesn’t need to consult his cabinet at all. Also I feel that if the PM did not consult his cabinet, and when he did he just over ruled their thoughts, then there would be a danger of the system becoming a dictatorship. I do however feel that in some situations a Prime Ministerial government can be beneficial. This could be when a decisive decision is needed.

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