Prime ministerial government

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Prime ministerial government is a government where the prime minister is dominant in terms of the executive. As the prime minister is, by definition, a member of a cabinet - this form of government is often a development from cabinet government. In true cabinet government the prime minister is primus inter pares (first among equals), where prime ministerial government necessitates the crossing of this boundary. An often cited example of prime ministerial government is the United Kingdom, where recent leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, have exercised leadership which circumvents cabinet. Thatcher began using bilateral meetings with individual ministers to determine policy areas using cabinet to simply announce these decisions. Due to the extent of her victory, and her control over cabinet positions, ministers were not as ready to question her as they may have otherwise been.

Despite John Major moving back towards cabinet government, Tony Blair carried on Thatcher's legacy. He strengthened the Prime Minister's Office and weakened the Cabinet Office, and he doubled the number of advisers. This led some political commentators to describe him as a "command leadership" or "Napoleonic" (Peter Hennessy and Dennis Kavanagh, respectively). Another point of note, perhaps undermining prime ministerial government in the United Kingdom during the Blair administration was the role played by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown - his influence over policy was unprecedented, particularly in areas such as pensions, enterprise and welfare-to-work. Brown also chaired the Economic Affairs ministerial standing committee, which was beyond a chancellor's usual remit.