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THE EXECUTIVE Powered By Docstoc
   AS Overview
   The Exam Specification asks for:
   A knowledge of the distribution of power
    within the UK executive. A knowledge of
    the factors that influence the relationship
    between the prime minister and the
    cabinet. A knowledge of the relationship
    between ministers and civil servants and
    of their accountability to Parliament and
    the public.
             More Clearly…..
   What powers does the Prime Minister
   How does he run his cabinet?
   What limits the power of the Prime
   What is the role of ministers/civil
   How accountable is the Prime Minister,
    and his ministers and civil servants, to
   You need to understand the basic
    concepts and traditional role of the
    Executive and its various members…
   You should have a thorough and up to
    date understanding of the Blair
   You should be able to draw selectively
    upon the recent past examples of
    John Major and Margaret Thatcher.
You need to understand:
 Cabinet Government

 Prime Ministerial Government

 Accountability

 Ministerial Responsibility

 Political Neutrality

 Open government

 Elective Dictatorship
       Cabinet Government
The theory that the cabinet forms a
  collective political executive in British
  government and thus constrains the
  power of the Prime Minister.
In Cabinet Government the principle of
  collective responsibility means the
  cabinet either makes, or is consulted
  about, important political decisions.
 Prime Ministerial Government
The theory that the office of the Prime
  Minister is now so powerful that it
  forms the political executive, that
  effectively makes the decisions.
In practice, this is characterised by the
  dominance of the Prime Minister; the
  existence of an unelected ‘inner
  cabinet’ of advisers; a lack of cabinet
  meetings and the relative
  unimportance of cabinet ministers.

The extent to which the government
 must answer for its actions to the
 people, via the elective body of the
 House of Commons.
     Ministerial Responsibility
Individual Ministerial Responsibility is the
  doctrine which assumes that ministers are
  fully responsible, to Parliament, for the
  actions of their departments.
The doctrine assumes that ministers will
  resign over failures in policy or practice
  (e.g. Lord Carrington, Falklands). In
  practice, the doctrine has been undermined
  by refusals to resign, and the belief that
  policy and practice are separate (Howard as
  Home Secretary).
    Ministerial Responsibility
The doctrine of Individual
 Responsibility has been rarely
 exercised in recent years. Most
 ministers seek to hold on to office
 despite errors in their departments
 (Stephen Byers, Charles Clarke, John
 Reid). Most resignations occur
 because of personal behaviour
 (Mandelson, twice; Blunkett). Estelle
 Morris (Education) was an exception,
 resigning because she was not up to
 the job (her own admission).
    Ministerial Responsibility
Collective Responsibility assumes that
 minsters will support government
 decisions, even if they privately
 oppose them. Ministers must resign
 if they do not feel able to publicly
 endorse such decisions (e.g. Robin
 Cook and others over the Iraq war)
        Political Neutrality
Refers to the lack of party bias in
 political actions and decision making.
 Can refer to independence (i.e. non-
 party) on the part of MPs or bodies,
 or cross-party work.
         Open Government
Government keeps no secrets, and
 conducts its affairs in the full glare of
 public view.
       Elective Dictatorship
Describes the British political system
 as one in which, once elected, the
 leadership of the majority party in
 the House of Commons can do more
 or less what it wants without
 constitutional checks and balances,
 until it faces the electorate at the
 next general election. Coined
 originally by Tory Lord Hailsham.
             LAST WORD…..
   This session has not covered a full
    assessment of the Blair premiership
   The role of the civil service needs further
    consideration, especially:
   Its increasing politicisation;
   The contracting out of a number of its
    functions (Next Step Agencies);
   Increasing public profile reducing
    anonymity of senior civil servants.

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