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The Prime Minister in a Shrinking World



The Prime Minister in a Shrinking World

Richard Rose

ISBN: 978-0-745-62730-4 April 2001 Polity 296 Pages

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In the days when Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee faced each other in the House of Commons, there was disagreement about whose hands should be on the Mace, the symbol of power at Westminster. Everyone assumed that the hands on the Mace would be British. In the past half century, the Prime Minister's power at Westminster has increased greatly, but it has diminished in the worlds beyond.

In Westminster, the Prime Minister is now first without equal. But in councils of the European Union, he or she is only one among fifteen national leaders. In a shrinking world the chief issues facing Downing Street today are 'intermestic', an amalgam of domestic politics and international concerns. Tony Blair may say that he is batting for Britain, but cricket skills are no match for an American president playing hard ball, and policy-making in the European Union is definitely not cricket.

In an era of television politics, the faces and voices of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair are familiar to every voter, and the press cooperates in turning politicians into media celebrities. But what you see on the box is politics; it has little to do with the policies of British government. Old-school leaders such as Harold Macmillan devoted as much time to policy as to politics. But new-style prime ministers put politics first.

Tony Blair wants to speak for all the British people, but the result is 'managed populism', for his voice travels down a one-way street. In Whitehall, Blair's Third Way blunts the cutting edge of policy, leaving officials puzzled about what to do when hard choices arise, especially about Europe.

Anyone interested in politics and current affairs, whether a student or a thoughtful reader and viewer, will find insight and illumination in a book that draws on the author's unrivalled first-hand knowledge of British politics over the past half century.

Richard Rose's work has been recognized by a lifetime achievement award from the Political Studies Association. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde.

Introduction: The Paradox of Power.

1. Looking After Number One at Number Ten.

2. Glendower in A Shrinking World.

3. What Makes Downing Street Change?.

4. Becoming and Remaining Party Leader.

5. From Private to Public Government.

6. Winning Elections.

7. Managing Parliament and Party.

8. Managing Colleagues and Bastards.

9. Running - and Running After- The Economy.

10. Managing Decline in a Shrinking World.

11. Tony Blair: A Populist Prime Minister.

12. What Comes After Blair?.

Appendix A: Prime Ministers Since 1945.

Appendix B: A Guide to Further Reading.

'The best-informed analysis of the pressures on and limits of the Prime Minister in the new century.' Dennis Kavanagh, University of Liverpool

'Richard Rose has an unusual ability to look at familiar questions about power - and its exercise in Downing Street - from a fresh, and invariably provocative, perspective. In The Prime Minister in a Shrinking World he highlights the global constraints on even a Prime Minister who dominates Whitehall and Westminster.' Peter Riddell, The Times

'Richard Rose is a veteran author of political textbooks, which are still on university reading lists many years after publication. This one will undoubtedly join them.' Iain Dale, Bookseller Buyers Guide

'The field of political studies is now so thoroughly tilled that it is quite a challenge to come up with any new perspective. The first thing to be said about Richard Rose's investigation into the contemporary nature of prime ministerial power is that he successfully contrives to overcome that hurdle ... If the Prime Minister seriously wants to banish that haunting image of him - initially dreamt up by his friend and mentor, Roy Jenkins - of a young man nervously carrying a precious vase across a long, slippery marble floor, then he could do worse than to read (and learn from) this far from reassuring book.' Anthony Howard, The Sunday Times

'Entertaining.' The Economist

'This book by Richard Rose is possibly the best observation of the Prime Minister in relation to the position of Britain in the modern world that I have ever read. Rose draws upon his many years of rubbing shoulders with politicians and PMs from Clement Atlee to Tony Blair in order to bring this very in-depth look at the prestigious occupier of Number Ten throughout the ages ... A very good read.' M2 Communications

'The great strength of this book is that Rose draws upon four decades of following and analysing British politics to produce a book that is full of insight and marvellous anecodotes ... it is a good read.' British Politics Group Newsletter

'This book provides a sound warning of the perils a Prime Minister faces vis-a-vis his colleagues, his MPs, civil servants, the media and the public at large ... The book abounds in delightful quotes and the author's own bon mots.' Frontline

'This is a book for the student and the general reader - a refreshing example of political science with its hair down ... The book is both informative and a pleasure to read.' Times Literary Supplement

'This book by Richard Rose is possibly the best observation of the Prime Minister in relation to the position of Britain in the modern world that I have ever read.' M2 Best Books

'The nature of the constraints facing British Prime Ministers, and their implications for the contemporary premiership, are explored by Richard Rose with great clarity and enthusiasm. As such, The Prime Minister in a Shrinking World thoroughly deserves to become a classic text on the British premiership, and one that will remain highly relevant for very many years to come' Talking Politics

"Rose admirably demonstrates how prime-ministerial power has increased at Westminster while diminishing internationally." Parliamentary Affairs<!--end-->

A Gives a clear and persuasive account of how the job of Prime Minister has changed in the postwar period
A Offers a broad comparative perspective on the subject matter, ranging from Churchill to Blair
A Written in a clear and lively fashion, with plenty of illustrations and examples
A Up-to-date, with an extended discussion of Tony Blair