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					               Pressure Groups

Learning Objectives
- To develop an understanding of pressure
  groups, their roles, aims and strategies.
- To examine the differences between political
  parties and pressure groups.
- To research why some pressure groups are more
  successful than others in achieving their aims.
            Past Exam Questions
   Referring to A campaign you know, briefly examine the
    extent to which it achieved its aims? (20)
   Referring to a campaign you know, evaluate the role of
    the media in contributing to its success or failure. (20)
   Briefly examine why some pressure group campaigns
    are more successful than others.(20)
   Assess the views that those who use extra-
    parliamentary action are more successful than those
    who use parliamentary action?(20)
         What is a Pressure Group?
   An organised group that seeks to
-   Influence Government policy.
-   Protect or advance a particular interest or cause.
-   Promote a specific issue and raise it onto the public agenda
   Pressure Groups operate at different levels of political life.
-   Local
-   National
-   International (inc European Union and major global institutions)
   Groups are important channels of influence between groups of people and
   Pressure groups do not look for the power of political office for themselves,
    but do seek to influence the decisions made by those who do hold this
    political power
      Key roles of Interest Groups
- Promote discussion and debate in a Democracy.
- Role in educating citizens about specific issues.
- Enhances democratic participation and diversity.
- Raises issues of importance that political parties will shy away
   from because of their sensitive nature.
- Access point for those seeking redress of grievance.
- Represent minorities who cannot represent themselves.
- Specialist source of information that can be used to help the
   legislature and civil service.
- Important role in implementing public policy.
- Pressure groups encourage a decentralisation of power.
Pressure Groups and Political Parties
   Pressure Groups are different from mainstream
    political parties.
   They have different organisational interests and
   Political parties seek representation and power whereas
    Groups in the main seek to influence power.
   Pressure Groups are normally concerned with a specific
    issue and would have no interest in taking responsibility
    for the running of the country.
Some links between Pressure Groups
        and Political Parties
   Importance of political participation at all levels.
   Some organisational links between some groups
    and political parties.
-   Trade Union financial support for the Labour
-   Corporate donations to all parties.
   Many MP’s, Peers and MEP’s are also members
    of Pressure Groups.
Inside or Outside Pressure Group
   One basic distinction is between Insider and Outsider groups.
    Insider groups are those which develop close relationships with
    government departments or other official bodies. They are
    trusted by the departments and negotiate quietly, unobtrusively
    for their members – often on issues which most citizens would
    not recognise or understand.
   Outsider groups lack such close and business-like links with
    government. Lacking recognition from the top, they will seek to
    convert and mobilise public opinion, often using demonstrations
    and rallies. Outsider groups often attract more attention in the
    press and from citizens than Insider groups – but that is usually a
    sign of their weakness.
       What Constitutes Success?
   A change in the way the Government responds
    to an issue (e.g. foot and mouth, fuel tax
   A change in the law either through an
    amendment to existing legislation or through
    new legislation.
   Increased public awareness.
   Preventing or delaying action e.g. building a
              Factors Behind Success
•    Political compatibility with the Government of the day.
    -Traditionally the Unionists have had more success with labour and organised business
     with the Conservatives).
    - Inside outside pressure group.
•    Financial wealth and other resources.
    -Main business lobby groups who have control over major economic resources e.g.
     Confederation of Business and Industry).
•    Quality of organisation.
    -Reputation and authority of leaders.
    - Quality of research and information available to policy makers
•    Success in achieving mobilisation in support (creation of a critical mass that demands
    - strength and size of public opinion.
    -successful use of public figures to front a campaign.
•    Ability to cause major disruption e.g. fuel cut protests lead by the Road Haulage
     Association and Farmers for action
       Some Recent Campaigns
   Campaign for Sarah
   Gun Control Campaign www.gun-control-
   The Stephen Lawrence Campaign
   The Greenpeace Book Campaign
      Good Case Studies of Protest
   Snowdrop- Gun reforms post Dunblane (1996-2000)
   Greenpeace- Brent Spar Campaign
   Road Haulage Businesses and Road Taxes (Autumn 2000)
   Survivors against silicon- effects of breast implants operations.
   Countryside Alliance and Rural issues (inc fox hunting).
   Trade Unions and the National Minimum Wage
   Local campaigns to abolish Grammer Schools.
   Betting and Gaming industry- removal of betting tax in the UK.
   National Farmers Union and Vaccination (Foot and Mouth)
Policy Communities
Policy Communities