My chosen question shall see me discuss how the reform of the British State affected the power of the core executive. I shall be focusing on key themes such as looking into the concept of the core executive and how it’s seen to have traditionally operated, including the Westminster model. I shall discuss debates into the relationships and powers within the core executive, focusing directly on Thatcher v Blair. I will go onto discussing the reforms within the British State, explaining what they are and how they operate, and how they affect the core executive. I shall look at the different perspectives of the contemporary core executive by looking into the ‘hollowed out’ and ‘differentiated policy’ systems. Lastly I shall look at contingency core executive model before concluding.
******Concept of the core executive and traditional perspectives of its operation ie Westminster model…..
What is the core executive?
The core executive is at the very centre of British government. It covers the very complex web of institutions, networks and practices surrounding the Prime Minister, cabinet, cabinet minister as well as committees and the less formalised groups. Smith.J.M (1999). It focuses on roles not just structures; also it has to be ready to react at all times as certain incidents such as the London riots would have caused a reaction within the core executive. This is known as fire-fighting, managing a crisis suddenly sometimes a matter of life and death. POLITICS AND GOVERNENCE pg 96.
The treasury is always within the core executive, as every time it agrees to commit resources to a specific area it’s denying its resources elsewhere. Therefore the treasury maintains a structure of balance within the core executive. POLITICS AND GOVERNENCE IN UK PG 116.
Westminster Model is seen to be an organising material, one which is built on the assumption that there is parliamentary sovereignty. It is argued that the Westminster Model was failing due to the reform of the government and as a member of the European Union. Smith.J.M (1999). It is a dominant figure over the central government, with its governing party mainly in the House of Commons. The main characteristics of the Westminster model apart from parliamentary sovereignty are that the cabinet ministers have collective responsibility, party discipline maintained and voters are offered a choice between parties, GOVERNENCE PG 48.
******Debate over relationships and power in core executive- cabinet v PM v Presidential style government, maybe utilising Thatcher and Blair example…..
There is an on-going debate over relationships and powers within the core executive. Along with this are the different styles of government which every leader adopts to their own personal style. The main figure head is the Prime Minister, in which all policies have to be passed and accepted before they take their place within society. The Prime Minister also represents the country during international debates and relations. The Cabinet is another prominent figure within the core executive it tends to consist of around 20-23 ministers, each is appointed by the Prime Minister themselves. The Cabinet helps with government business such as public expenditure and constitutional issues. The Cabinet is strongly supported by the Civil Service. McEwan.N (2004).
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The Prime Minister V Cabinet debate has gone on for many years and shall continue to be seen as a battle between two important figure bodies. Relating strongly to the circumstances and the resources that are available at the time, may determine who may take the leading role. Prime Ministers are dependent on the support of the cabinet and without the appropriate team work wouldn’t be a successful unit.
Blair V Margaret Thatcher.
It’s believed that the resignation of Margaret Thatcher was forced upon her as she failed to recognise her dependency on colleague’s within the core executive. This was due to her ignoring pleas and views from colleagues during a recession and unpopularity in the polls. During 1980 and 1990 Thatcher was seen to be a strong figure but this started to deteriorate rapidly causing more resignations under her such as John Major. THE CORE EXEC IN BRITAIN PG 102. Tony Blair did follow some traits left behind by Margaret Thatcher, but he also introduced significant changes to the way in which the government was run.
Blair and Thatcher between them are the two longest serving prime ministers in the last hundred years. Thatcher when in government instituted reforms within British government, as well as opening up economic and global competition. BRITISH POLITICS PG 302.
*****Reforms in the British state, what are they? What has been their effect? How have they affected the core executive…
There have been many reforms within the British state over the years, with each prime minister bringing in reforms that they believe are needed at that time. Margaret Thatcher had big involvement in the reform of the central government when she was in power. Thatcher wanted to reduce the size of the state by reducing the amount of civil servants. This was mainly due to privatisation; thatcher believed that by reforming the central government it would become more efficient and better value for money. CORE EXEC PG 200.
With many new reforms being introduced this brings implications to the core executive such as resources and relationships, and how they are utilised. Thatcher wanted to increase the power of authority and was committed to ensure that the reforms she brought in wouldn’t be easy to reverse. CORE EXEC PG 212. Tony Blair was known to be trying to adjust the way in which the core executive was set up, after Margaret Thatcher. With the British state being a parliamentary one the core executive works within a parliamentary framework. The core executive has lost power, due to the reform and the movement of powers within the core executive. It is believed by Rhodes that the differentiated polity has had a great impact on the core executive making it more about co-ordination rather than direction of power. PAGE242. A key issue that comes out of this is that the ministers within the core executive can identify what needs to be done to improve British society, but its whether they have the appropriate resources to do so.
*****Different perspectives of the contemporary core executive ie Rhodes ‘hollowed out’ model and ‘differentiated polity’ and Richards and Smiths dependency/resource exchange and contingency core executive model……
There are different perspectives of the contemporary core executive; I am focusing on Rhodes’s ‘hollowed out’ and ‘differentiated polity’ models.
Rhodes’s Differentiated Polity model is one of the most complex attempts at providing a contemporary organising perspective on the British system of government. There are many key strands to the differentiated polity including policy networks, power dependence, governance, intergovernmental relations and a hollowed out state. GOV AND P.P IN UK PG 20.
‘The hollowing out of the state’ is the most important aspect of the differentiated polity model. ‘The hollowing out of the state’ summarises many changes which have taken place in the British government. GOV AND P.P IN UK PG 26. Rhodes 1997 states that central government authority has been reduced and dispersed:-
Upwards to the supranational level.
Outwards through privatisation and market testing. (Core executive.)
Downwards, through the creation of quangos and agencies.
British government is seen to be hollowed out from the top as a result of our membership with the European Union. A few factors that are seen to be responsible for ‘hollowing out’ are globalisation, Europeanization, internationalism and privatisation.
Privatisation can benefit the government such as it helps raise a lot of money, which can be then spent on public expenditure. It also encourages private investments as well as reducing power of trade unions.
Globalisation and its causes are hard to identify and it has many levels. Consequently its brought down to economic, social, political and scientific developments in which people associate globalisation. GOV PUB POL UK PG 126, Prime Ministers and Cabinet officials believe that globalisation has changed politics and made it problematic.
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