Pressure Groups

Pressure Groups
How much influence do they
What are Pressure Groups?
Pressure groups are informal political
institutions that seek to influence the
making and the implementation of public
What do they do?
They cover a broad spectrum from the
large business with high level contacts at
national and European level to the
smallest local group
Can you name any Pressure Groups
based on this information?
How do they influence?
Secret behind the scenes lobbying of
politicians and influential figures
Wynn Transport
Highly visible protests
Fathers for Justice
Make Poverty History
Did you know…..
 More people belong to Pressure Groups than
political parties?
 The study of Pressure Groups and influence is
essential in understanding how the system
 Can you think of any ways PG’s are similar or
ways they are different to Political parties?
Pressure Groups are different from
political parties because
They do not normally contest elections
When they do, they do not aim to form a
Their campaigns are based on single
issue policies
Pressure Groups are similar to political
parties because
They are based on representation and
They form a mechanism for the expression
of people’s interests
They influence Government and
Government policy
Provide funds
Sponsor candidates
Influence the shaping of policies
Types of Pressure Group
Sectional Groups
Based on the performance of an economic
i.e. CBI, BMA, Law Society, NUT
Cause Groups
Based on shared attitudes and values
i.e. Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Shelter
Charter 88 etc.
Differences explained
Membership Purpose
Sectional Limited to a
Groups background
Those sharing
To protect
interests of
May pursue
other causes
i.e. BMA –
Advance public Owns
welfare as
perceived by
and employs
Insider vs Outsider groups
Insider Groups – Consulted on a regular
basis by Government
Outsider Groups – Either do not want to
be closely involved or are unable to gain
Government recognition
Insider Groups
High Profile – Re-inforce contacts with
Government through media contact
Low Profile – Behind the scenes contact
with Government
Prisoner Groups – Unable to break free as
either dependent on Government or public
Outsider Groups
 Potential Insider – Groups seeking insider
status, a change of Government can change
status – i.e. Countryside Alliance
 Outsider by necessity – Lack the political skills to
 Ideological outsiders – Objectives are at a
varaince to social and political norms i.e. CND,
ALF etc.
Political Relations with PGs
 1979-1997 Conservative Govts, saw PGs as
“Strangling Serpants” – Douglas Hurd
 Curtailed TU powers
 Won great industrial battles such as 1984 Miners
 Professionals groups such as Doctors and
Teachers were seen as in need of radical reform
therefore influence denied
 Independent Schools, Private Health suppliers
and housing associations flourished
The exemption of F1 from tobacco
advertising had nothing to do with Bernie
Ecclestones £1 million donation
ASH, BMA and several charities were in
Links with the TU’s have weakened,
despite Minimum wage and increased
public spending on education and health
The Countryside Alliance
My Heroes!
Marched on London in 1998, 2002 and
Marched against the ban on fox hunting,
loss of farmland to urban development,
falling incomes, declining rural services
Supported by NFU, Clay Pigeon Assoc,
Timber Growers Assoc and the British
Field Sports Society
Direct Action
 May Day Riots 2002…boo hiss….
 Soap dodgers marching against capitalism and
the march of poverty
 Marched through City, destroying buildings, such
as McDonalds and defacing statues such as
 City workers photocopied £50 notes and threw
them out the windows to the protestors
 Fuel Protestors 2000 – Hooray!.....blockading
petrol stations
A new Social Movement
 Wider focus than a single issue, national or even
global in it’s outlook
 No HQ, no staff, just groups linked by the
Internet, global, anarchic and chaotic
 Environmentalism is an example
Pressure Groups i.e. Greenpeace
Political Parties i.e. The Green Party
Action – Protest and Direct, i.e. Rainbow Warrior
They include a wide variety of ecologists,
conservationists, eco-warriors etc..
Victims of Social Movements
Iron Triangle of Global
 World Bank
Multi nationals
 McDonald’s
 Coca-Cola
 Nike
 Texaco
 Microsoft
 Disney
Core targets for all PG types
The Core Executive
PM, Ministers, Civil Servants
Public Opinion
Local Institutions
So do PGs make the UK democratic?
 Participation and Political access
 Improvement of Government
Information provided affects quality
 Pluralism – Freedom of Association
PGs serve as vital links between Govt. and Soc
Assist in the dispersal of political power
 Social Progress
New issues to be debated, i.e. environmentalism
 Social Cohesion
Safety valve for grievances
 Opposition
Expose information, improving accountability
So do PGs make the UK democratic?
 Sectionalism and Selfishness
Only favour the well organised
 Anti-Parliamentary democracy
Insider groups may not work in public interest
 Elitism
Re-inforces existing class and power structure
 Pluralistic stagnation
Too many groups, lots of contrasting aims, can
immobilise the system
 Social disharmony and dislocation
Intensifies feeling of injustice by highlighted groups
 Failure of opposition