All posts filed under: Pm and Cabinet

To what extent has the power of the Prime Minister increased in recent years?

In the last 50 years of British politics, a series of Prime Ministers have been seen to utilise prime ministerial powers in as increasingly independent and arguably presidential way. However, have the powers of the Prime Minister actually increased, or have a number of recent Prime Ministers simply been more bold in harnessing the powers in place and more smart in managing and tackling the political environment of the United Kingdom? The latter currently seems far more tenable for reasons that will further be discussed.

To what extent has the powers of the Prime Minister grown in recent years?

In recent years, it has been noticed that various Prime ministers have attempted to reduce the amount of formal powers they have, largely due to public and political pressure. Whilst formal powers derived from the Prime Minister’s prerogative have decreased, there has been a growth in prime ministers exercising their use of informal powers that give the PM undefined authority. This was particularly the case in the Blair years when he was accused of manipulating government through the use of informal powers to suit his own interests. However, these powers are subject to the limitations that appear in government at any one time, with each prime minister facing different challenges, such as growing  back bench activism, in Cameron’s case, or decreasing popularity in the case of Brown. 

Corbyn’s Labour Shadow Cabinet

  Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet is one like we’ve never seen before, comprising of MP’s from diverging ends of the left wing spectrum of politics. He has appointed a cabinet that to some extent can be viewed as a milestone for gender equality in British politics with female ministers outnumbering male ministers 16 to 15 but at the same time it has been denounced for assigning women to mediocre or ‘junior’ positions. However, despite the new found egalitarianism on the grounds of gender there remains a significant under-representation of ethnic minorities with only 3 of the 31 shadow ministers coming from black or Asian backgrounds. Corbyn’s cabinet is also far older than its predecessors, with an average age of 53 as well as consisting of more previously rebellious MPs, with Corbyn himself having defied the party whip over 500 times and John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, having done so 469 times since 1997.

Maria Miller’s Mortgage Misconduct

Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke resigned on Wednesday as the Conservative Culture Secretary. She was accused of claiming £90,000 in expenses towards mortgage payments for her second home in south London for four years. This was published in the Daily Telegraph in 2010 with the Telegraph claiming that Mrs Miller’s actions were breaching the rules for parliamentary allowances. These rules were implemented in 2010 after the wake of the MPs expenses scandal where MPs were banned from claiming mortgage interest on second homes, with tax-payer’s money. The MPs expenses scandal was made public in 2009 after a campaign by freedom campaigners using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that allowed citizens to enquire about the expenses of MPs.

Cameron VS the Liberal Democrats: The Green Tax Promise

  David Cameron is said to be going back on his word about green taxes despite obligations from Lib Dems.   David Cameron has come under fire for his statement on reviewing energy bills. The Prime Minister said that the green taxes had helped push up household bills to “unacceptable” prices, but a source close to the prime minister said his message in private was blunter than that. He is claimed to have said, “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.” Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in December will set out new plans to reduce the impact of environmental impacts on fuel bills. The changes have set out to cause disruptions in the coalition government because the Lib Dems vowed to prevent in any falls in levies during this parliament.   The Lib Dems are also keen to keep the green taxes, arguing they are essential to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy supply for the UK. Cameron wants to scrap most of the charges, which help subsidise wind farms and pay …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th January 2014

Parliament Roundup – 13/01/14-19/01/14   Labour Speech This week, Labour leader Ed Miliband and his shadow ministers will make speeches for the electorate in order to announce Labour’s upcoming plans. The speeches are designed to broaden the debate away from spending and the deficit. Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds made a speech on Tuesday reemphasising on Labour’s plans to build more than 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament in 2020 by stressing that we need to increase social housing. However, this might prove tricky for Labour as they will have to allow more borrowing in order to reach this ambitious goal. This goal in particular might be seen as Ed Miliband’s way of proving that Labour is not just about short term goals such as his established energy price freeze. Euro sceptics unsatisfied   95 of Conservative backbenchers have recently signed a vote for the law to be changed for the House of Commons to veto new EU regulations. There has been much recent disagreement with this vote and William …

The Coalition Welfare Reforms Explained

Coalition Welfare reforms Job Seekers Allowance (JSA): The Department for Work and Pensions have set up schemes aimed at getting unemployed people back to work, it has caused much controversy Critics have dubbed the programmes as “Workfare”, likening them to unpaid labour, or forcing people to work for their benefits. To get people back to work by either Work Experience (November 2011, 34,200 people had started a Work Experience placement), Sector-based work academies, Mandatory Work Activity, Community Activity Programme and the Work Programme. JSA has been cut to at least £56.80 a week, varying on an individual’s situation. Universal Credit: A new in- and out-of-work credit, which integrates six of the main out-of-work benefits. The aim is to increase incentives to work for the unemployed and to encourage longer hours for those working part-time. “The main differences between Universal Credit and the current welfare system are: Universal Credit will be available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work most people will …

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Parliament Roundup: 4/12/13-11/12/13 MPs to receive 11% pay rise: Click for a video explanation IPSA(Independent Parliament Standards Authority) have recently proposed to provide MPs with a pay rise of 11% which will increase their salary to £74,000. They have stated that there will be changes to the pension scheme which will save tax payer 2.5 billion pounds if the rise is to take place. Even though this might be seen as a great thing for the MPs, lots of them are scared to state publicly that they think it is a good idea. The main issue with this proposal is that it might be the wrong time to make such high rises in MP’s salaries when other public sectors are facing difficult freezes. However, of this proposal is to go ahead, it will take legislation in 2015 to stop this from occurring. The public might not like the sound of the proposal at first because many might feel that the MPs don’t deserve such a high pay rise as they have failed to improve costs …

Labour Leader Ed Miliband – Does he have what it takes?

 Does Ed Miliband have what it takes to be Prime Minister?     The views of the public depict conflict when addressing Ed Miliband as a leader, not only concerning his strength and influence within the Labour Party but whether he is indeed, too “weak” to act as Prime Minister. With those who are in favour of Miliband such as the likes of  political thinker Anthony Barnett who argues provocatively that “Ed Miliband is an exceptionally effective opposition leader, brave and an adroit party manager” and present PM David Cameron often highlighting his disproval of Miliband  and asserting his leadership as poor by stating “We know Labour’s approach, you go in with your hands up and a white flag” , the public are found torn between choosing Labour for their policies or abandoning the idea of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister out of uncertainty and scepticism. Following the conclusion of the Miliband brothers’ pyscho-drama in the battle to become leader of the Labour party, the aftermath of Ed’s victory seemed strangely anticlimactic. It didn’t seem …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-20th November

Weekly Parliament Roundup – 13/11/13-20/11/13 Geneva II Conference November 2013   Over the last few weeks, the Geneva conference has taken centre stage in the news, in regards to Iran’s nuclear projects. The conference was postponed to the 20th and has resumed over the past few days. Even though definite decisions have not yet been made, following his visit to Geneva, Foreign Secretary William Hague states that Britain’s aim is to create a “Interim first step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to then create a comprehensive and final agreement”. The main question is however, is it too late for Britain to step in and try to give Iran guidance on the decision that it should make? The country seems set on making the brave choice to go ahead with their plans without the restrictions from America. Hopefully, Hague will make an influential effort to try and impose financial and energy sanctions against Iran, with the help of other countries such as France and Germany. Increase in Tax Thresholds …

Who’s Who – The Shadow Cabinet

Who’s Who – Shadow Cabinet The Shadow Cabinet consists of only Labour MPs. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s job to criticise and challenge the policies and actions of the leading government, including the likes of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron. Here’s a list of the members and their roles. Why not check the links for recent news updates, it may just help you to learn about their past history and present position in politics…   David Miliband MP (Labour) Role: Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party. Education: Studied PPE at Oxford and at the London School of Economics. Political Career: Elected MP for Doncaster North since 2005. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2008 to 2010.  Leader of the Labour Party since 2010 having won against his brother. Extra Information: Click for the Miliband fact file  Harriet Harman MP (Labour) Role: Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Education: Studied Politics at the University of York. Political Career: Elected MP for …

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-13th November 2013

Weekly Parliament review – 6th -13th November 2013 Commonwealth Summit Prime Minister David Cameron will still attend the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka despite India and Canada boycotting the event. There have been calls for the PM to boycott the event, especially from Labour members who proposed that they would strongly support the Prime Minister if reversed his decision to attend. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that if the Prime Minister decided not to attend the summit, it would damage the commonwealth without making any positive change in Sri Lanka. The summit will concern the country’s Human Rights records and Cameron has pledged to put ‘serious questions’ to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda  Rajapaksa  about his regime’s widely condemned Human Rights records and allegations of war crimes against the Tamil minority. Concerns over rise in personal debt in the UK The Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Mark Garnier has raised concerns over the level of personal debt in the UK. He recently stated on The World This Weekend on …

News Report: Labour Party becomes media target after Falkirk investigations

Union within Labour party creates false memberships in order to rig voting process in Falkirk.   The Labour party came under fire after it was found that Unite, Labour’s biggest union backer was accused of coercing members to join the Labour Party and signing up unsuspecting families without their knowledge to ensure the union’s favoured, now with drawn candidate, Karie Murphy was selected as the Falkirk MP. The investigation was first brought up by two families who suddenly found that they had become members of the labour party despite never signing the forms to join the party. The general secretary of the Unite union Len McClucky, denied fresh claims that the union was involved in the forgery and coercion and stated that it was a poor attempt from the Tories to discredit Ed Miliband, as the Conservatives take it upon themselves to leak emails of internal Labour reports of the Falkirk investigations to the Sunday Times. Allegations: In an interview with presenter Andrew Neil on BBC’s Sunday Politics Len McCluskey defends Unite by claiming “We didn’t thwart anything. The …

Energy Bill Crisis: Cameron’s dilemma

Energy Bills – Is Cameron ‘panicking‘ yet? Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed politicians persistently speaking of energy prices rocketing and of the ‘Big Six’ making huge profits from the bills of their overcharged customer’s, of whom are without any knowledge of they came to be so high in price.  Many individuals who are unable to afford these high prices are left confused and deceived by their energy supplier and blame PM David Cameron for not taking action against this ever increasing issue. Recently, the problem has been addressed by Cameron in parliament and of who has even been in discussion with Neck Clegg in order to find a way to get household bills down and made sustainable. The “big” questions are;  how soon and how will he make changes to the British taxpayer’s energy bill? According to research by uSwitch, energy bill suppliers such as the likes of British Gas have a current bill at around £1,340 and the new bill is said to raise to a staggering £1,465 – an increase of £125 which …

Ten things you need to know about the group of four that runs the Coalition

Ten things you need to know about the group of four that runs the Coalition By Tim Montgomerie When the Coalition was first formed I predicted the engine room would be this group of ten. It hasn’t turned out like that. Decisions are taken in the so-called Quad group. The Quad is more like Blair’s sofa-style of government than Cabinet government. Intimate, relational and highly political it includes the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In this week’s Spectator James Forsyth takes a look at The Quad and here are my ten takeaways from his piece:

The “Downing Street Machine”

Lots of the mark schemes refer to some sort of Downing Street machine so let’s untangle that and see what this buzz phrase actually means. The Downing Street machine is used as a point to argue that the power of the cabinet as the executive body in the UK has decreased. Since Blair, the ‘Downing Street machine’ has expanded in number and responsibility, the phrase primarily covers special advisors and the policy unit. Firstly we can look at special advisors, under Blair in the year 2004/5 there were 84 special advisors, under Brown 78 and under Cameron 83 (previously 66 in 2010) and most notably Andy Coulson who recently resigned but when in his role of Director of Communications, earned more than Nick Clegg. This shows a growth in the bypassing of the cabinet when it comes to policy creation. Secondly we can see how the No 10 Policy Unit has been focused on recently, the unit was initially set up by Wilson in 1974 and grew massively under Blair and has further increased under …

The Policymaking ‘Fault lines’ in the Coalition

The coalition has had a rough few weeks with incidents including pastygate, a charity tax, a ‘granny’ tax and Clegg taking a hit along with his beloved Lord’s reform. The makeup of the coalition however doesn’t make running the coalition any easier. On Newsnight this Monday, political editor Allegra Stratton outlined what seem to be the two biggest fault lines within the coalition government.

The Quad and Cabinet Government

The ‘Quad’ is a high-level executive committee that comprises of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander and is one of the coalition’s key decisions making bodies. Typically the Quad meet to ‘iron out’ matters that may be contentious between the Lib Dems and Tories prior to formal cabinet meetings. Cameron has tried to set about changing the style of his premiership, away from Blair’s more informal style dubbed ‘sofa government’ and has been praised by officials for his ‘return to formality and commitment to process’. However can the Quad be seen as a considerable step backwards?

Sarah Teather and Individual Ministerial Responsibility

Liberal Democrat minister Sarah Teathers has faced criticism following this Wednesdays PMQs where Conservative MP Peter Bone noted that the children’s minister failed to vote on 7 occasions on the proposed changes to welfare reforms last week. In Prime Ministers Questions, Cameron was asked why she was still in the government. Following this Tory MP Priti Patel said: “When you are a minister, your job is to turn up and vote for the Government”.