Pressure Groups

Pressure Groups
Other Concepts
Functional Representation
"Where there are multiple political, religious and cultural views.
Pluralism is said to be more common in the UK today.
Pressure groups are an important feature of a pluralist democracy.
Power should be shared
Voices minority views
Progress in society
Maintain our individual freedoms
Spread of power dilutes the effect
Conflicting groups
How do PG's
PG's are set up for any cause at all
Allow different opinions to be heard publically
Groups are more powerful than individuals
Fills gaps that Government & parties have missed
Get a response from Government is enough pressure is applied
The idea of a hierarchy of concentrated power, where people are above others
by class, power and wealth - usually undemocratically.
Elitism can create a class divide.
Allows more efficient decision making
Meritocracy - people worked hard ti get where they are
Maybe it's important we are lead?
Could be born into it - not deserved
Undemocratic, can lead to corruption
How to PG's
Small groups of people make all the decisions in PGs
Insider groups are more powerful than outsider groups
Some groups have selective memberships
Distinguish between
a Political Party
PP= Accountable to the electorate
PG= Not accountable
PP = Stand candidates for election
PG = Don't (usually). Prefer to influence power/laws
PP = Manifestos on wide range of issues
PG = Specific issue only
PP = Democratic
PG = Don't need to be & sometimes aren't
PP = Groups of people with the same ideological views
PG = People concerned with a specific issue, may have different party affiliations
Functions of
Pressure Groups
Raising awareness of issues
Representing a wide range of views & minority views [D]
Encourage political participation [D]
Hold the government to account [D]
Consultation, supplying information to the government
Scrutinise the government [D]
Influence decision makers
Dilute / Fragment power away from government [D]
Represent the interests of a specific group or section of people. Usually social or economic views
Only interested in the views of their members
Membership is usually specific
Trade Unions (NUT = Teachers, GMC = Nurses etc)
CBI (Confederation of British Industry)
Promote causes which are in the interests of the whole community or at least a wide number of people
Altruistic (don't just look after their own member's interests)
Often lead by a small group of people with a non-specific membership
World Wildlife Fund
Groups with no specific link to government, they are on the outside of the political process
Likely to seek public support to put pressure on the government
Some groups may undertake acts of civil disobedience (e.g. F4J)
Fathers 4 Justice
Animal Liberation Front
Groups that operate inside the political system through contacts within government
Can take part in the development of policy - tend to be consulted by government
Tend to behave legally and not publically criticise government
May be able to prevent unfavourable legislation at an early stage
CBI (Confederation of British Industry)
The Adam Smith institute
High Profile Insider
They influence government and tell the public that they are.
They tend to be government-related institutions
EG: Office of Fair Trading
Low Profile Insider
Influence government but do not wish to draw attention to themselves
EG: CBI (Confederation of British Industry)
Postential Insider
Their status depends on the current government
EG: Trade Unions
Outsider by necessity
May apply to relatively new or small groups that the government is not sympathetic towards
EG: Association of British Drivers
Ideological outsider
They wish to remain independant and free, so avoid getting inside government
EG: Greenpeace
Pluralist Democracy
Subtopic 2
How They
Exerting Influence
Political Parties
HOW: PG's will seek support from MPs, sometimes for a fee (must be declared)
WHY: To change party manifestos or views
EXAMPLE: Environmental pressure groups added environmental points to the Conservative Manifesto
NOTE: Called Access Points
HOW: Government can consult PG's when introducing a new law
WHY: Benefits both parties, Govt gets insight & public approval, PG's get their points across
EXAMPLE: Stonewall (Civil Partnership Act 2004)
HOW: PG's ask specialists to represent their views to politicians
WHY: To enter their ideas into the political process
EXAMPLE: Rich businesses
NOTE: Criticised for not being very democratic
Parliamentary Methods
HOW: PG's persuade MPs to represent views.
During the committee stage of the law making process
Influence House of Lords to amend
Stand candidates for election
Direct Action
Illegal sit-ins
Breaking & Entering e.g. GM crop fields
HOW: TV interviews, coverage of protests etc
WHY: Access to the public
EXAMPLE: Dunblane Shootings 1996 => Firearms Amendment Act 1997
Mobilising Public Support
HOW: See Direct Action and Media
WHY: The government is sensitive to public support
EXAMPLE: Celebrity & media Endorsement
HOW: Similar aims to government
WHY: The government looks for groups that support its views, if only for legitimation
EXAMPLE: Taxpayer's Alliance
HOW: Wealthier groups are able to hire lobbyists or give party donations
WHY: Increases their chances of success
EXAMPLE: BPI / CBI are financed by the businesses they represent
NOTE: Tend to be sectional. Promotion groups rely on donations
HOW: Can be large organisations or ones with small memberships
WHY: Outsiders need to be larger to be legitimate & successful
EXAMPLE: World Wildlife Fund is sometimes considered by government, but is huge
NOTE: Insiders don't need to be as big - is this democratic?
HOW: Insider or Outsider!
WHY: More important groups can influence policy
EXAMPLE: CBI (Confederation of British Industry)
Celebrity Involvement
HOW: Celebrities attend events held by the pressure groups
WHY: Media & Public support hugely increases and everyone looks to the government for a response
EXAMPLE: Ghurka Soldiers - Joanna Lumley
HOW: The ability of a group to organise themselves to pursue their goals
WHY: Better organised groups are more successful
EXAMPLE: Writing a constitution
HOW: Some groups may have an opposite group
WHY: Less opposition incraeses chances of success
EXAMPLE: EDL (English Defence League) vs UAF (Unite Against Facism)
EXAMPLE: ASH (Anti-smoking) vs the Tobacco Industry
Pressure Group
PG Changes
More or Less
More Important / Stronger
Less Important / Stronger