Can partnership approaches developed to prevent Islamic terrorism be replicated for the extreme right?

Dr Chris Morris, Lecturer for the Institute of Policing at Staffordshire University, has had his research published in the Journal for Deradicalisation.

‘Can partnership approaches developed to prevent Islamic terrorism be replicated for the extreme right? Comparing the Muslim Brotherhood and Generation Identity as “firewalls” against violent extremism’.


You can access the article here.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Contemporary View of Systemic Challenges

The 25th March represents the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave TradeA key part of this International Day is not only to remember those who were subject to the 16th-19th century transatlantic slave trade, but also to raise awareness around the dangers of racism in a modern context. There has been significant public discussion around ethnicity and racism in recent months, and as a criminologist with an interest in researching the notion of ‘modern slavery’, there is a great deal of overlap between these issues.

For example, earlier this week, the Home Secretary, like many of her predecessors going back to at least the early 2000s, stated that the UK asylum system is ‘broken’ and is determined to ‘fix’ it by introducing reforms to the process. Simply put, the aim is to make it harder for migrants who enter the UK via irregular routes to claim asylum. Such policy announcements are likely influenced, at least in part, by reports of undocumented migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats to claim asylum. The intention is to make the system ‘fairer’ and crack down on ‘serious organised criminal gangs’ who are involved in transporting migrants. These proposals are controversial, because restrictive immigration legislation does not address the underlying conditions that make such a migration journey necessary or desirable, and tends to make migrants more vulnerable to exploitation, either before, during, or after they enter the country. In addition, these changes will affect some of the world’s most vulnerable people who originate from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan, and Syria.

For those of us who research themes related to modern slavery, there is a tendency in public discussion to adopt an overly simplistic narrative of ‘victims, villains, and rescuers’ in line with the above notion of serious organised criminality. In other words, malicious or ‘evil’ human traffickers take advantage of ‘innocent’ victims in order to recruit, transport, and exploit them, whereby if detected, the state intervenes to save victims. Such a discourse has arguably helped to bring the issue of modern slavery into the public eye and is easy to understand. However, portraying the state as a neutral or benign actor in tackling modern slavery overlooks the role that it plays in fostering conditions to help exploitation thrive, and overlooks the role of other actors such as legitimate organisations.

Very few (if any) public figures would argue against the need to disrupt ‘serious organised criminal gangs’ to protect victims of human trafficking and detect perpetrators. This crime control agenda is convenient for governments to pursue, since they can be seen to ‘do something’ about the problem, and can simultaneously claim the moral high ground by championing legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act 2015. While involvement of the criminal justice system in tackling modern slavery is necessary and helpful in many cases, it also diverts attention from structural factors that are not always obvious at first sight.

Therefore, once we move beyond this simplistic notion of ‘victims, villains, and rescuers’ often associated with the crime control agenda, we can see that factors such as immigration policy, labour market regulation, the welfare system, and resources allocated to regulatory bodies, all have a part to play in explaining modern slavery. For example, the lack of accountability for companies who fail to produce a transparency statement under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act may encourage exploitation to thrive in their supply chains. We have already considered the latest change to UK immigration policy that is based on deterrence, rather than other root causes such as ‘push and pull’ or ‘supply and demand’ factors. Structural issues such as how to properly regulate businesses, develop a more humane immigration system, and safeguard the rights of migrants, are highly controversial when compared to arguments centred on the need to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice. However, they provide more nuanced explanations for how and why modern slavery thrives in contemporary settings, not just at the individual level, but in the context of businesses, markets, and political-economic processes.

Perhaps one of the ways to remember the multitudes of people subject to historic transatlantic slavery is to consider modern ‘crime control’ practices that, either by design or unwittingly, contribute to systemic problems of racism and exploitation that primarily affect the most vulnerable people in our society.

Dr Jon Davies is a Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University.

Law Student Becomes Youngest Divisional Equality Forum Representative for Usdaw

Law student Bradley Allmark is the youngest Divisional Equality Forum representative and one of the youngest Tesco Shop Steward Representatives for Usdaw. Bradley explains what the role entails, why he chose to study at Staffordshire University and how this opportunity has given him the ‘drive to work in Employment and Equality Law’.

USDAW Trade Union  

I am the youngest Divisional Equality Forum Representative and one of the youngest Tesco Shop Steward Representatives for Usdaw. I am [also] currently studying the LLB (Hons) Law Degree at Staffordshire University.

NW Divisional Equality Forum Representative/ Tesco Shop Steward Representative

Usdaw is determined to promote equality for all sections of society, both at work and in the community. 

As a Representative, my job is to take instructions and represent members in investigations, disciplinary meetings and other workplace issues. I have now been doing this for eighteen months, after building a strong reputation as a Rep. I put myself forward for the Equality role in August 2020, where I was elected to sit on the Divisional Equality Forum. My extra duties are to run workshops on issues like disability discrimination, women’s health and tackling racism at work. I will be helping to organise local get-togethers and workplace visits to support and encourage activity among the under-involved groups of members. I will also be supporting local events like Pride. [I feel that] being the youngest Representative is one of my biggest achievements.

The reason why I sit on the forum is because I want to help people who are being discriminated against and empower people to be who they are without the fear of being judged. Usdaw is always supporting its members to find new ways to reach out to these groups of members. 

Studying Law  

I grew up in Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent where I attended Stoke Sixth Form College to study BTEC Business and BTEC Law. Whilst at college, I got a part time job working in a Tesco Extra to help me pay for driving lessons and start saving money for university. I have always had an interest in Law and, from leaving high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Law. 

I went around different universities but I wanted to remain local due to personal circumstances at home, so I chose to study at Staffordshire University. During my Open Day, I had a 1-1 tour with one of the lecturers, Louis Martin, and I had a really positive experience.

I liked the fact that the university had a more practical approach to education, and it was one of the top for employability. During my time, I did practical exercises like mooting and giving legal advice with the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SUALC).

However, I really struggled settling into the degree and my first year at the university I even contemplated leaving and changing courses. My lecturers on the other hand did not want me to leave and believed in me, so they supported me the best way they could. 

During my second year at university, one of the Usdaw Reps at Tesco, where I worked, had a conversation with me and liked what I was doing in my law degree. [She] thought that I would be a great asset to the team, so she helped me to secure a role as a Tesco Trade Union Representative with Usdaw.

Part way through my training, we went into the coronavirus pandemic pushing everything online. However, the opportunities that arose from the pandemic gave me the practical experience I needed to progress. This increased my confidence massively and gave me the motivation and determination to continue the degree, especially under strained circumstances. I am now looking at graduating with a first class Hons. 

Working with the union has given me the passion and drive to work in Employment and Equality Law. My next step is to study the LLM LPC at the University of Law in Birmingham, which I am really excited to study. I am also looking forward to developing my role as a Trade Union Representative and the opportunities and experience that this may bring.  




Sarah Everard: social media and the very real danger of contempt of court


Media coverage of criminal investigations often spark widespread discussion but did you know that any social media post which creates a substantial threat to the impartiality of a subsequent trial may amount to a contempt of court?

Senior Lecturer in Law, Dr John McGarry has written an insightful piece for The Conversation on why we all have to be mindful of engaging in speculation when it comes to ongoing cases.

TW: Violence against women

Boris Johnson may soon have the power to call elections whenever he wants – a legal view on why that’s not a good idea

“Legislation is currently making its way through the UK parliament to repeal the controversial fixed-term parliaments act, which sets the period between general elections at five years and limits the prime minister’s power to trigger an election earlier.

An earlier election is possible if two thirds of MPs vote for it or if the government loses a vote of confidence among MPs.” Find out more with Law Lecturer, Dr John McGarry’s article on The Conversation, here.

Policing and Forensics – Careers and Employability Event a Great Success

Wednesday 10th February saw around 70 students joining academics, alumni, police professionals and university careers staff on MS Teams to raise awareness and better equip students for applying for roles in policing and the wider forensics jobs market.

The event was borne out of conversations with police specialists who felt that former students applying for roles within Police Forensics weren’t giving themselves the best chance of being selected for interview.

The event was organised by Dean Northfield, the School of Law, Policing and Forensics Placement Coordinator, and Martyn Hordern, the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership Coordinator, with initial discussions taking place last autumn before the current lockdown.

Undeterred, an MS Team’s event was arranged and speakers were gathered to assist in as many ways as possible. The event saw two former students giving their thoughts on police and private role applications, a former Police Assistant Chief Constable demystifying the police application form and a current police Digital Forensic Coordinator giving his guidance and advice. Also present were police recruitment specialists, and specialists from the Institute of Policing and the University Careers Relationship team, supported by a student Careers Coach.

Vicky Cook from the University’s Careers Relationship team talked about students’ online presence and said “if you wouldn’t want your gran to see it don’t put it online”, emphasising that prospective employers will check what potential employees are doing online.

Former students Becky Teague and Kira Low gave their experiences as graduates from 2020. Becky had also been a police Special Constable and was now working with a private digital forensics company. Kira meanwhile works for Norfolk Constabulary in their Digital Forensics Unit. Both gave some insightful advice from the differing application processes used to prepare yourself whilst still at University.

Ian Ackerley, Course Leader for Policing and Criminal Investigation and a former Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) with Staffordshire Police, shared some helpful tips and advice on how to turn a good application into a very good one, whilst at the same time preventing a very good application becoming just an adequate one.

Adam Newbery from Staffordshire Police’s Digital Forensics Unit gave some insight into finding Police roles, preparing yourself, having a career plan and how to sell yourself in the application form.

The day concluded with Dionne Johnson (from the Staffordshire Police’s Recruiting Team) sharing police career advice, including the STEP IN process to assist potential applicants, and Bethany Hepher from the Institute of Policing, who talked about the PCDA and DHEP (Police Apprenticeship) routes into being a Police Officer.

Martyn Hordern said “I am sure that each and everyone of [our guests] will have helped those on the call to be better prepared to apply for and hopefully get roles within forensics, policing, or similar”.

Dean Northfield said after the event, “we are really passionate about employability skills and it was refreshing that so many common themes went through each presentation”. He added that it was hoped for such an event to become a fixture going forward.



Set in Clay: The Journal of International Relations, History and Politics

Each year our students on the International Studies courses publish an online journal, showcasing the finest undergraduate and postgraduate coursework submitted.

Set in Clay is the result of a four-week-long project to peer review, curate and publish an online journal as part of the university’s Get Ahead programme, since 2019.

Set in Clay Volume 1 (June 2019)

The first volume contains work categorised into topics about ‘Britain and the End of Empire’, ‘Intelligence’, ‘Consumer Society’, ‘Modern Italy’, ‘Refugees and Immigrants’, ‘Political Thought’, ‘International Relations’ and the ‘USA, 1776-present’. 

View Volume 1 here.

Set in Clay Volume 2 (June 2020)

The second volume includes two undergraduate dissertations on ‘Feminism and the Irish Revolution’ and ‘Globalisation and Neo-Nationalism in the Global North-West’, as well as various topics categorised from modules covered on the degree: such as the ‘French Revolution’, ‘India and Pakistan’, ‘International Society’, ‘Ireland’, ‘Intelligence and International Relations’, ‘The Soviet Union’ and ‘Presenting the past’.

There is also postgraduate work ranging from ‘The Myth of the “First Great Debate” ‘, ‘How actively does China now engage in multilateral diplomacy’ and ‘In what ways can new technology change the practices of diplomacy?’. 

This issue also contains a COVID-19 Pandemic Special on how the Coronavirus has impacted students and staff in 202

View Volume 2 here.

Set in Clay, June 2019 Committee

Follow the @setinclay Facebook page here

International Book Giving Day

The 14th February is not only Valentine’s Day, it is also International Book Giving Day. The day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing access to books. We asked staff to suggest some books from their subject areas (both fiction and non-fiction) that they enjoyed reading and that others may find interesting.



Blue: A memoir: Keeping the Piece and Falling to Pieces by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director






Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain by Thomas Grant

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer








Crossing the line: Lessons from a Life on Duty by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director





I am Pilgrim: Can You Commit the Perfect Crime by Terry Hayes

Suggested by: Dr Fran Stubbs-Hayes, Forensics Lecturer





In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence by Rhodri Jefreys-Jones

Suggested by: Associate Professor Tony Craig, Lecturer in International Studies






In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer





Isis: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M Berger

Suggested by: Aman Jaswal, PhD Researcher







On The Farm: Robert Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancourver’s Missing Women by Stevie Cameron

Suggested by: Emma Tilley, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing




Police Socialisation, Identity and Culture: Becoming Blue by Sarah Chapman

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director






Research Ethics: In the Real World by Helen Kara

Suggested by: Sarah Page, Criminology Lecturer





Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister

Suggested by: Dr John McGarry, Law Lecturer




Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer






The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken

Suggested by: Abbeygail Standen, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing






When the Dogs Don’t Bark: A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth by Angela Gallop

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer

16 and 46: Preserving, Protecting and Defending

Aidan Flynn, Senior Lecturer in the Law Department, looks at some similarities and differences between the office of US President and the office of UK Prime Minister

New President

Joe Biden, of the Democratic Party, is now the 46th President.  At his inauguration ceremony he took the oath that is set out in the Constitution of the USA 1789, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  In his inauguration speech, President Biden quoted the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln (1861 to 1865), of the Republican Party, “in another January on New Year’s Day in 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  When he put pen to paper the president said, and I quote, ‘if my name ever goes down in history, it’ll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.’”  Mr Lincoln led his country in very difficult times with the years of the American Civil War coinciding with his period in office.  Referring to the present day, President Biden continued “here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.  It did not happen, it will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.  Not ever.”  Like Lincoln, President Biden has a very difficult path in front of him, he faces a “pile of crises.”  Like ‘Honest Abe’ he is confronted by a series of stark challenges.  His long years of experience as an elected representative will stand him in good stead as he fulfils his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

Head of what?

In the USA the President is both the head of state and head of government of the United States of America.  In the United Kingdom these roles are separate, the monarch being head of state and the Prime Minister being head of government.  Graubard states that “simplicity, the theme of the nineteenth-century American republic, made the president the first citizen amongst equals, but these practices gave way in the twentieth century to a new kind of presidential office that vaunted itself on its simplicity, but showed unmistakable signs of having assumed the trappings traditionally bestowed on European heads of state.”  The British monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, this means that while the Queen is head of state it is the UK Parliament that makes legislation.  The website of the monarchy tells readers that the Queen “undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history.”  The monarch has no political or executive role, it is the Prime Minister who is “the most important politician in the UK.”


Presidential elections in the USA take place every four years and are held in November.  Every state in the USA has a different number of what are known as electoral college members.  The number of members per state is apportioned according to its population and representation in Congress.  The candidate who wins the most votes in a state controls all that state’s electoral college members.  The electoral college members cast the votes for President and the votes are formally counted at a joint session of Congress in January.  The figure needed to win is 270 and in 2020 Joe Biden received 306 to Donald Trump’s 232.  Sometimes the winning candidate will not have also won the biggest number of votes in the national popular vote.  For example, in November 2000, in the national popular vote Al Gore received over 540,000 more votes than George W. Bush.  What is crucial is to win in the electoral college process and George W. Bush became President in January 2001 having done that, receiving 271 votes to Mr Gore’s 266. 

In the UK the Prime Minister is appointed by the monarch either after a general election has taken place or when a sitting Prime Minister has departed the office at some point during the term of Parliament.  By convention, the Prime Minister must be an MP, that is a member of the House of Commons.  This contrasts with the position in the USA where the President is not a sitting member of either house of the legislature.

When the result of a general election gives one political party a clear overall majority in the House of Commons, the position is straightforward.  The leader of that party will, as in December 2019, be invited by the monarch to become Prime Minister and form the government.  When there is a hung Parliament, in which no one party has an overall majority, the position may not be as straightforward.  Le Sueur comments that “there is academic disagreement about the extent to which the monarch has discretion” in relation to a decision about who to appoint should the party leaders in the Commons be struggling to strike any kind of deal on government formation.

Timeline when entering office

In the USA there is always a gap of time between November’s election and the moment when a new President assumes office.  The 20th Amendment, to the Constitution of the USA, states that “the terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.”  By contrast, in the UK the timeline between a general election and the appointment of the new Prime Minister is usually a matter of hours rather than weeks.  This is illustrated by the transfer of power that occurred in May 1997 when the party led by the incumbent Prime Minister, John Major, was defeated in a general election.  The general election was held on the 1st of May and John Major left 10 Downing Street on the 2nd of May.  Having first travelled to Buckingham Palace and been appointed by the Queen as new Prime Minister, Tony Blair arrived in 10 Downing Street in the early afternoon, Mr Major having “walked out only moments before I had come in.”   If a general election produces a hung Parliament, the timeline will be different.  For example, in 2010 the general election took place on the 6th of May, but it was on the 11th of May that the incumbent, Gordon Brown, resigned and was succeeded by David Cameron.  Mr Brown recalls that once it was clear that the election result was a hung Parliament, “the senior civil servants at the cabinet office, primed for this situation and armed with their Cabinet Manual, now moved into action to host what they knew would follow – inter-party negotiations.”  He resigned five days after the election when he formed the view that those negotiations were not going to yield an outcome that would see his party remain in government.


As head of government in the UK, the Prime Minister leads the executive, one of the three branches of government, the other branches being the legislature and the judiciary.  Government ministers are formally appointed by the monarch, but it is the Prime Minister who makes the decisions on who becomes a minister.  Similarly, it is the Prime Minister who has the power to make a decision as to when a minister must leave the government.  It is a convention that a minister must be a member of one of the houses of Parliament, most ministers are members of the House of Commons.  Senior ministers sit in the Cabinet, a body that holds regular meetings chaired by the Prime Minister.  Most of these senior ministers head up a government department, examples being the Secretary of State for Education, the Secretary of State for Transport.  Barnett outlines how it is the Cabinet that represents “the nucleus of government” adding that it is “the Cabinet as a whole which, at least in theoretical terms, formulates, initiates and implements the policy of the government.”  In the USA the Cabinet is also an important aspect of the executive branch of government.  The Cabinet is made up of the fifteen heads of the executive departments.  They are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The requirement for there to be confirmation hearings, in the upper house of Congress, has no equivalent in the UK.  Persons picked by the Prime Minister to serve in Cabinet do not face confirmation hearings in Parliament, the legislature of the UK.  In the USA members of the Cabinet will not also be serving in either house of Congress, unlike the convention in the UK that a Cabinet minister must be a sitting member of the legislature.  This is a notable difference between the systems of the two countries, it means that in the UK members of the Cabinet have a role in two of the three branches of government.  They are simultaneously members of the executive and legislative branches whereas in the USA Cabinet ministers only serve in the executive branch.  Another difference in the two systems relates to the Attorney General.  In the USA the Attorney General is a member of the Cabinet and is head of the Justice Department.  In the UK the Attorney General is a member of the government and attends Cabinet meetings but she is not a member of the Cabinet.

Length of term

In the USA the President is, under the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, limited to two four-year terms.  The 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the only President to have served more than two terms, being elected four times and serving from 1932 until his death in 1945.  It is possible for a President to remain in office for ten years.  This applies in specific circumstances and can be examined by looking at the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  He was Vice President in November 1963 when President John Kennedy, who had been inaugurated in January 1961, was assassinated.  Mr Johnson was sworn in as President on the day that the assassination occurred and then won the November 1964 presidential election.  He could have stood as a candidate again in 1968 but opted not to do so.  However, had the assassination of Mr Kennedy taken place at a point during the first two years of his term, Mr Johnson would not have been eligible to enter the 1968 contest.     

In the UK there is no limit on the length of time that someone can serve as Prime Minister.  Since 1940, there have been three Prime Ministers who held office for longer than eight years, Winston Churchill (1940 to 1945 and 1951 to 1955), Margaret Thatcher (1979 to 1990) and Tony Blair (1997 to 2007).


A president’s time in office will end when he has completed two terms or if he is defeated in the election that occurs at the end of the first term.  Of the last seven presidents, four left office after eight years, these are Reagan (1989), Clinton (2001), GW Bush (43)(2009), and Obama (2017).  The other three, who were unsuccessful candidates when they campaigned for a second term, are Carter (1980), GHW Bush (41)(1992), and Trump (2020).  Eight presidents have died in office, four of whom were assassinated, Abraham Lincoln (1865), James Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901) and John Kennedy (1963).

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1967, sets out some circumstances in which it is possible for the Vice President to take over the powers and duties of the President, and operate in the capacity of Acting President.  This Amendment is relevant where the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  In January 2021 Vice President Mike Pence rejected calls for him to invoke provisions of the 25th Amendment in relation to President Donald Trump.

Impeachment of a President is covered by Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution.  It provides for removal from office on “Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  In 1974 Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, he is the only president to ever resign the office.  Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998) were both impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted after a trial in the Senate.  In December 2019 Donald Trump became the third president to be impeached when the House of Representatives voted to adopt articles of impeachment. Like Johnson and Clinton, he was acquitted after a trial in the Senate.  The Senate voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.  On the 13th of January 2021 President Trump became the first president to be impeached twice  when the House of Representatives voted to adopt articles of impeachment.

Seven prime ministers have died in office, one of whom was assassinated, Spencer Perceval (1812).  The most recent instance of death in office was Lord Palmerston (1865).  In certain circumstances a prime minister could be dismissed by the monarch.  This happened in 1834 when King William IV dismissed William Lamb.   On departure through dismissal, it is also relevant to recall what occurred in Australia, a member of the Commonwealth, in 1975.  The Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, was dismissed by the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative in Australia.

The departure of most prime ministers is brought about by resignation.  A prime minister will resign upon being defeated at a general election, the most recent example being Gordon Brown in 2010.  An exit by way of resignation can also occur where a prime minister faces a leadership challenge in her party.  In 1990 Margaret Thatcher resigned amidst substantial internal divisions, about her leadership, within the Conservative Party.  Describing how what he calls “the most striking ‘boss’ prime ministership of the post-war period” came to an end, Hennessy relates that nearly two-thirds of her Cabinet told her she could not go on.  He adds that “this was the crucial moment when she realized that her pyrotechnic command premiership was finished.”  Another reason for resignation can be the rejection, in a national referendum, of a major policy position advocated by the Prime Minister.  The departure of David Cameron, in 2016, illustrates this and he records that “Britain was leaving the EU and I was leaving the job I loved.” 

There is a convention that if a government loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister should resign, and a general election take place.  This occurred in 1979 when the government of Prime Minister James Callaghan lost a vote of confidence, by one vote 311 to 310.  The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 modified the position where a government loses a vote of confidence in the Commons.  This Act provides that an election is only triggered if, within fourteen days of the vote, neither the previous administration nor an alternative government has secured the confidence of the House of Commons.


The most significant similarity between the US President and UK Prime Minister is that both are world leaders elected in countries with a democratic system of government, the USA a republic and the UK a constitutional monarchy.  Abraham Lincoln summed up the nature of democracy in his famous address at Gettysburg, “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  The first President, George Washington, entered into office in 1789 and the Constitution that came into effect that year is still the fundamental document underpinning the governance system.

The year 2021 is the 300th anniversary of prime ministers.  The period in office of Robert Walpole, who is listed as the first Prime Minister, was 1721 to 1742.  Hennessy states that “each new arrival in No. 10 experiences it and manages it afresh, which is why transitions of governing and prime ministerial power repay especially close study.”

Close study of the last five years shows very vividly that the ability to command a parliamentary majority is a key element in determining how a premiership will go.  A Prime Minister with a good-sized majority in the House of Commons has greater authority than one who lacks this.

Barnett comments that “whatever the personal power of the Prime Minister, he or she is ultimately dependent upon the support of Cabinet, party and Parliament; and, in turn, that support is dependent upon the support of the electorate expressed not just through the vote at a general election, but continually expressed in that amorphous concept ‘the mood of the people.’”  Power rests with ‘the people’, every aspiring Prime Minister knows that, and every Prime Minister knows that he must never forget that.