Specimen Paper – Unit 2 Mark SchemeWhat criticism is David Cameron making of Tony Blair’s style of decisionmaking in Source 1? (5 Marks)Big political decisions it is now suggested are made according to source:Away from the full Cabinet forumExclusively in the PM’s officeWith no clear recording mechanismsWith no clear lines of accountabilityIn allegedly an arrogant mannerExplain the main functions of the Cabinet. (10 Marks)There are a range of functions which the Cabinet perform.It acts as a chamber or forum where major Government decisions are made, these mayinclude a decision on major budget items or the decision to enter armed conflict such asthe decisions to send troops in to combat.The Cabinet also functions as an information chamber where Government Ministersoutline issues and progress within their departments and shares this detail withcolleagues.The Cabinet in addition provides unity and leadership to the Government as a whole toshow a united and committed approach to policy.In times of crisis the Cabinet provides emergency control bringing collective supportand guidance.A further function is to review the legislative timetable for Parliament and make allsenior Government Ministers aware of new Bills and legislation in the pipeline.The Cabinet has been seen to act as a training ground for future Prime Ministers.To what extent have UK Prime Ministers become “Presidential”? (25 Marks)A range of factors have been identified as contributing to a “Presidential” style of PrimeMinister.Reference may be made to the factors outlined by Foley, these include: the culture ofthe outsider, where the PM is seen as a non-establishment figure on the side of theordinary citizen: spatial leadership where the PM distances him or herself from the
formal Governmental apparatus; the growth of bilateralism where the PM instead ofconducting the bulk of meetings in a full Cabinet forum with a number of Ministers, bycontrast chooses to hold “one to one” meetings with each Departmental Head orSecretary of State, this allows a greater leverage for the PM, instead of this beingdiluted and challenged in a full Cabinet;There is the increasing focus of the media which puts a direct spotlight on the PMraising her or his profile above and beyond fellow colleagues. The drive to a“Presidential” style allegedly focuses on the person above issues and this downplaysideological or policy debate and raises the importance of style and individualcharacteristics. This can be seen in the personalised drive of current electioneeringwhere the leader of a party is seen as far more important than its policies.This in turn has been implied to diminish the role of the political party in its formercontext and the leader is seen as the “brand image” to the loss of the political party.The PM is seen to have more direct contact with public, making a point to be seen atgrassroots level.In addition the last 20 years has seen the growth of the PM’s Office and an increase inthe number of staff. It is alleged that there has been a diminishing role for the Cabinetand decisions are made elsewhere in smaller groups and presented to the Cabinetsimply to approve as opposed to discussing.It is further alleged that the decline of Parliament has enhanced or raised the prestigeand power of the PM.However, the extent and reality of a “Presidential” style of Prime Minister may bechallenged by pressures which curtail PM power.The Cabinet is still an important and instrumental part of the Government machine, it isnoted that lack of support here was the factor which finally removed Mrs. Thatcher. Thepolitical party is not as enfeebled as often suggested and a PM who acts arrogantly willultimately fall or be curtailed by its power, for instance backbench revolts can limit thelegislative scope of the PM.The media which can deliver power can also damage the PM’s image.In the UK the constitutional arrangements can and do limit the PM, for instance theConstitutional Monarch acts as the Head of State not the PM.Likewise Parliament can act to censure the PM as noted in legislation but also in anopen forum.Events can also act to undermine and restrict the PM, events over which the PM has nodirect control or influence.
The latter can also deliver failure in post for the PM which undermines his or herauthority and image.