There's no need for the '-ization': the prime minister is merely prime ministerial

Heffernan, Richard (2013). There's no need for the '-ization': the prime minister is merely prime ministerial. Parliamentary Affairs, 66(3) pp. 636–645.



The notion that the British prime minister had outgrown the parliamentary system enabled some scholars to theorise that the prime minister had become more ‘powerful’ over time and allowed critics to lambast Tony Blair for being unnecessarily and unreasonably powerful. Keith Dowding (2012) suggests it is time to ‘finally put an end to the presidentialisation argument’ (p. 2), but the notion— in both its uses—had fallen from favour long before his recent attempt to administer a coup de grâce. For one thing presidentialisation was forever undone by proof Blair was often hamstrung politically by his chancellor, Gordon Brown. By itself this illustrates that Blair, harried by Brown for the entirety of his premiership, was no president, even if at times a very powerful prime minister. No member, say, of any US president’s executive (not even the vice president, the only person who can succeed the president) could ever engineer the president’s ousting in the way Brown and his followers in Labour’s parliamentary party obliged Blair to step aside in June 2007. No US Treasury secretary (nor any other cabinet member) could ever have been as obstructive, insubordinate or disloyal to the president they serve as Brown was to Blair.

Presidentialisation fell further from favour when Brown proved a weaker and less effective prime minister. Few suggested Brown was so empowered a prime minister he had become a president. And fewer still, given the realities of coalition government, refer to David Cameron in such fashion when he has presently to share some degree of power—over both the choice of policy and of ministerial personnel—with the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg (Bennister and Heffernan, 2012).

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