Insider and outsider pressure groups

Pressure groups

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Pressure Group
What is an Insider Pressure Group?
Insider pressure groups have strong links with decision makers and are regularly consulted. Insider
pressure groups are the groups that the government - local or national - considers to be legitimate and
are, therefore, given access to decision makers. For example, insider groups might be included in regular
meetings with ministers or civil servants and they might be included on lists for circulation of new
government proposals. The fact that insider groups are part of the consultation process enables them
to use direct methods in order to exert influence. Insider groups tend to be very powerful and long-term
in terms of political influence. It is more common for sectional rather than promotional groups to be
insiders, although this is by no means always the case.
Insider pressure groups are similar in one respect. Generally, they abide by the `rules of the game'. For
example, they tend to respect confidences and not to make public attacks on ministers. Insider groups
can be further divided into two categories. The first is institutions within the state apparatus. This
category includes organisations such as the Church of England and the police force. They can be
described as insider groups because they are involved in the consultation process as a matter of course
when government proposals relevant to their activities are discussed. The second category is external
groups. Whilst institutions within the state apparatus are consulted in the discussion process of
governmental proposals, the same is not true of external groups with insider status. Instead they are
the independent organisations such as trade unions, charities or pressure groups, which are called upon
by the government to provide expertise when it is needed. The type of group selected varies according
to the government's ideological orientation and other factors such as public opinion. So, the type of
external groups given insider status varies from government to government.
What is an Outsider Pressure Group?
Outsider pressure groups have none of the advantages of insider groups. They cannot expect to be
consulted during the policy-making process, nor can they expect to gain access to ministers and civil
servants. Rather, they have to work outside the governmental decision making process and, therefore,
have fewer opportunities to determine the direction of policy.
In the 1980s, CND was excluded from any consultation process with the government because its aim
was unacceptable to the Conservative government of the time. An extreme example of an outsider
group is the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which seeks a united Ireland but has been considered an
illegitimate organisation by the British government. It was considered anti-constitutional because its
violent indirect method - terrorism - was unacceptable in a democratic country.
Outsider groups adopt different strategies and can be further subdivided in to two categories. The first
are outsider groups aiming for insider status. They do this by waiting for a different political climate,
such as a change in government. If such a change materialises, they might immediately gain insider
status. Outsider groups hoping for a change in political climate often work closely with the opposition in
Parliament and, generally, their strategy is to abide by the `rules of the game'. Alternatively, groups
seeking insider status may be new groups with little experience, resources and expertise. Decision
makers might support their aims but do not consult them because they are thought to have little to
offer. In addition there is a category of outsider groups that do not aim for insider status because they
are ideologically opposed to the political system. By definition, such groups have no interest in gaining
access to governmental decision makers.

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