AQA Pressure Groups: Q&As

A set of 14 questions and answers with relevant and recent examples to help you get an A in this unit!

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
Pressure Groups and Protest Movements
1. What are pressure groups? An organisation which seeks to influence
decision-makers in relation to a particular issue or policy.
2. How are they different from political parties? While both political parties
and pressure groups stand to gain support and represent people, pressure
groups aren't organisations established to become decision makers
themselves, they usually focus on one area of policy and try to get influence in
that area with the government and those that hold power. Parties that focus
on single issues can blur this line, for example UKIP which campaigns for
leaving the EU and is a driving force in the Leave campaign. It could be said
that UKIP has acted like a pressure group in the demanding of the EU
referendum as it's increasing popularity triggered the Conservative Party to
give the public a choice on the membership of the EU via referendum and this
was included in their 2015 General Election manifesto. Another thing that
blurs this line is that pressure groups can sometimes go on to become
political parties as the Electoral Commission registered 61 new parties in
2004 that were previously single issue pressure groups.
3. Why do people join groups? People are becoming more involved in informal
politics, there are many reasons for this. It could be attributed to the decline in
party membership, people don't join parties as they don't identify with them.
With the increase of rational voting and floating voters, people are more likely
to be interested in issues that matter to them most so therefore prefer using
informal methods to get their voice heard and tackle that particular issue. It
could be that more people are becoming more disillusioned with formal party
politics, a poll found that there has been a significant decrease in people that
believe politicians want what is good for the country, Gallup found that in 1944
found 36% people believed that politicians wanted the best however in a
follow-up 70 years on in 2014 it was found that only 10% believed it and 48%
believed they were out for themselves. As people are disillusioned, informal
politics gives them the opportunity to get involved in influencing decision
makers. With the rise of political education within the population, people are
more informed on certain issues and want to get involved and give their
opinion on the issue. The diverse country that we live in means that there is a
more assorted range of opinions and views on political issues than there has
been before so pressure groups help gather people of the similar opinion so
they can work together and get their voices heard. With the growth the scale
and size of government, for example the welfare state, it has given pressure
groups more opportunities to get involved with. It has been argued that
increased leisure time, both in terms of the shorter working week and more
early retirement, has increased the number of people with time to devote to
such activities.
4. What are the main characteristics of social movements? Social
movements are large informal groups that are interested in a certain issue,

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
and usually want change. They are different to pressure groups as they aren't
as organised, with no particular leadership or committee. They tend to prefer
protests and often do sit-ins. There is usually a broad movement and then
pressure groups set up in response.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
be in contact with senior civil servants and have input in the policies
that are being made. Connections can be enhanced by public
school/university friendships or trade union relationships.
Public pressure: the public could be brought onto the side of pressure
groups and push the agenda to focus on a particular issue to get the
attention of the government, this is what happened with the Healthy
Eating Campaign of Jamie Oliver.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
8. What factors make success more likely for any group?
Easier to remember with `MORR SALES'
Factor Explanation
Media Coverage Media coverage on a pressure group is important as it raises
awareness on the issue and the group in general.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
Negative comments made by an MP can also undermine a
pressure group and how successful they can be. For
example, David Cameron called the EDL `terrible people',
which diminishes any hope of them being able to influence
the government.
Aims The aims of the pressure group are significant, because if
they are not in line with the majority public opinion then it will
fail to do well within politics.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
they resorted to extreme direct action like jumping onto Buckingham Palace
and planning to kidnap the Prime Minister's son, the public perception of the
group had become negative making the group unable to discuss the issue
properly.
11.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
Democratic ­ the ability to start Majority rules ­ it only gives a voice
petitions and protest against to issues with the biggest support.
governmental decisions gives The Parliamentary e-petitions only
people the chance to have their consider petitions that get 100,000
voice heard. signatures, so issues of minority
groups can be ignored.…read more

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JAWWAD MUSTAFA ­ GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS ­ AQA UNIT 1
for a variety of organisations or lobbying
groups. However, this was disciplined
after the cash for questions scandal.…read more

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