Policy Formation: The Imbalance of Power Within the Core Executive

  • Leanne McCarthy-Cotter


This chapter focuses on the role of power within of the core executive and its impact on the formation of the 1991 Child Support Act. It stresses that in the drafting of the 1991 Child Support Bill there were two strands of thought and that these conflicting perspectives reflected the objectives pursued by different Government Departments and Ministers. It assesses the imbalance of power, looking at how divergent agendas gained position within the single policy. It evaluates the power resources (that of direct, indirect, and misdirected power) that Thatcher and the Treasury utilised to successfully push through their Treasury-driven agenda. The chapter also discusses the power relations and ‘battles’ that occurred within the core executive, showing why Newton introduced a policy despite not entirely agreeing with the details. This chapter states that while the policy proposal of Newton and Lord Mackay was maintained, the detail inside the Bill was controversial, ill-judged, and contradictory to the original aims, due to the involvement of Thatcher and the Treasury. The chapter ends by advancing upon Kingdon’s idea of ‘policy windows’ (1984), demonstrating that Thatcher and the Treasury were aware that their approach would be unlikely to obtain support and lead to the desired policy change, and so they concealed their ‘problem stream’ and ‘policy stream’ within that of Newton and Mackays’.


Core executive Treasury Prime Minister Thatcher Ministers Power Policy windows Policy streams Cabinet 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leanne McCarthy-Cotter
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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