The Prime Minister Is Only as Powerful as Other Actors Allow Him to Be

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The Prime minister is only as Powerful as other actors allow him to be'. Do you agree?

"Everyone who doesn't fall into line will be hit on the head... no wonder some ministers were actually physically sick, before going to meetings with a piece of business likely to be on the receiving end of the most famous handbag in world political history”. These comments have been taken from an exchange between David Howell and Professor Lord Hennessy, the person they were discussing was Lady Margaret Thatcher. The extract illustrates well a popular thesis in British politics, that “we have shifted from a parliamentary system to a presidential one”. Lady Thatcher had her own agenda, and one that was not shared by most of her party, and she would lose no opportunity to imprint her view firmly, perhaps forcibly - even emotionally upon her audience. Margaret Thatcher provides excellent analysis to those whom seek to set the Prime Minister on a pinnacle of power, above and apart from all other actors; thus the Prime Minister is far more powerful than other actors allow him/her to be.

However history has taught us well that the office of the Prime Minister is like an elastic band , it can be stretched to accommodate an assertive Prime Minister, and even flip back for a less assertive PM; however it can also be stretched to breaking point, and Lady Thatcher was no exception to this. Although there has been a rich historiography throughout the post war period, it was the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher that fueled the debate about Prime Ministerial government. Since the 1980s academics have sought to establish arguments about the apparent death of Cabinet, the demise of Parliamentary sovereignty, and the increased centralization of government power into the hands of one executive: The Prime Minister. Evidence has been cited to ascertain that British Politics is no longer founded on the basis of Cabinet government, collective responsibility and primus entranous, but on a...
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