4

The role of the Prime Minister

Observations in Chapter 1 about the Cabinet system in general apply also to the Prime Minister. His functions and powers are a matter of convention, not statute, and consequently are exceptionally flexible: the parameters of his role at any given moment depend on the circumstances of the moment and on the personalities and aptitudes of leading actors within the system. While any actor is constrained by the institutional restraints imposed by the role he fills, the constraints on the Prime Minister are looser than on most British politicians in elected office. It is only possible to set out the practices that seem to apply in most circumstances, and describe the repertoire of roles that a premier may undertake. Any explanation must be applicable to a variety of personalities from the relaxed post-war Churchill to the interventionist Mrs Thatcher, and to a spectrum of circumstances from the placid 1950s to the fraught 1970s.


The Prime Minister’s fundamental tasks

Strangely, the Prime Minister arriving at No. 10 from a Whitehall department can find himself comparatively under-employed. A department provides a ready-made workload. In contrast, the Prime Minister has few duties that he must carry out. He is responsible for everything, yet obliged to do almost nothing. Callaghan observed in retrospect:

To a large extent the Prime Minister makes his own pace. It is the Prime Minister himself who takes the initiatives, who pokes about where he chooses and creates his own waves. Ideally he should keep enough time to stand back a little from the Cabinet’s day to day work, to keep in touch with Parliament and outside opinion, and to view the scene as a whole, knowing full well that periods of crisis will occur when this will be impossible.

(Callaghan 1987)

-88-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
British Cabinet Government
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the Second Edition vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • A Note on Sources xi
  • 1 - Describing the Cabinet System 1
  • 2 - Ministers and Their Departments 12
  • 3 - Collective Decision-Making 49
  • 4 - The Role of the Prime Minister 88
  • 5 - The Dynamics of Collective Decision-Making 138
  • 6 - Problems of the Cabinet System 172
  • 7 - Advice at the Centre 196
  • 8 - Conclusion 238
  • Notes 255
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 270
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 282

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.