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The Prime Ministers' CraftWhy Some Succeed and Others Fail in Westminster Systems$
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Patrick Weller

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199646203.001.0001

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The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle

Prime Ministers and their Advisers

(p.82) 4 The Inner Circle
The Prime Ministers' Craft

Patrick Weller

Oxford University Press

Prime ministers need help, both to understand the policies they must consider and the political implications of any choices. They receive it from their prime ministers’ offices (PMOs) and from Cabinet Office/Prime Ministers’ Department. The former sees the task through the prime minister’s eyes, providing immediate partisan support and advice. The chiefs of staff in the PMO have become key figures in modern government as they try to make the task manageable. The Cabinet Office or prime ministers’ departments provide more expert advice, always on how to manage the administrative and cabinet process, sometimes on policy issues too. Whether both are appropriate is debated: do they serve the cabinet as a collective or the prime ministers as an individual office-holder? How and whether prime ministers should direct government or merely coordinate it remains contested.

Keywords:   Prime ministers, cabinet office, prime ministers’ office, prime ministers’ departments, chief of staff, policy advice, conventions

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