Cabinet System in the UK

In more modern times, particularly since the Second World War, academics have suggested that power has increasingly become vested in the Prime Minister (Pollard et al 2007 pg 140). This is in contrast with the more traditional view of the Prime Minister being merely the head of the Cabinet and more towards a ‘presidential’ style of governance. It has been argued that the notion of the Prime Minister as ‘first among equals’ is no longer applicable, as the Prime Minister takes more and more decisions without or at least with substantially reduced cabinet involvement (Pollard et al 2007 pg 140). For example, it is said that the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was made between the Prime Minister and a small number of ministers, rather than a full Cabinet decision being made (Bradley and Ewing, 2007, pg 272).

Seldon has summarised the ways in which the Cabinet System changed in the 20th Century. He states that it moved from being the sole decision-maker to merely one of them, with committees increasingly making policies and Prime Ministers choosing to take decisions alone (Seldon in Bogdanor (ed) 2003 ch 4). This may be somewhat understandable given the increased number of issues to be decided upon and the complexity of the ministerial department over that period (Steyn 2006).

Every Prime Minister will have a different style of leadership depending on his personality. However, modern Prime Ministers are in a position, if they wish, to exercise a dominant influence over the Cabinet. Bradley and Ewing provide five examples of how the Prime Minister is in a position of much greater power compared with the Cabinet (2007 pg 271-273).

Firstly, it is the&nbsp.Prime Minister who makes appointments to ministerial office and therefore the Cabinet. He may ask them to resign, recommend that they are dismissed, or move them between offices.&nbsp.