Objectivity and falsehood: assessing measures of positional influence with members of David Cameron’s cabinets

Nora Siklodi, Nicholas Allen

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Abstract

This paper analyses the distribution of power among ministers during David Cameron’s premiership. More specifically, it reports both the application of Dunleavy’s measures of positional influence to successive lists of cabinet committees and our efforts validate them by drawing on insider feedback. It charts how the cabinet-committee system changed between 2010 and 2016, and interprets successive rankings of ministerial influence. It further investigates the nature of power in Cameron’s governments by detailing a number of former ministers’ responses to our measures. Those we spoke to were generally sceptical of the importance of cabinet committees and especially of our attempts to derive measures of ministerial influence from them. Overall, our findings emphasise the dangers of attributing too much importance to formal structures and instead draw attention to how contemporary core-executive politics are shaped by informal networks and structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Pages (from-to)220-237
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Politics & International Relations
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date28 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Keywords

  • British government
  • cabinet committees
  • core executive
  • David Cameron
  • positional influence
  • prime ministers
  • realistic interviews

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