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Pressure groups

What is a pressure group?

A pressure group is an organised group of people, united by a common cause or topic, who wishes
to influence government and policy. They also try to influence or change the views and opinions of
the public. They have become a central part…

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The Heart Foundation

Promotional groups

`issue groups' or `cause groups'
Defined by commonly-held beliefs or causes
Uniting feature may take many forms
It could be the cause of wildlife, the environment or child welfare
Tend to be interested in the interests of the whole community not just a section


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And whether they are successful


Close and established working relationship with government
This in a sense confers a type of legitimiacy of acceptance on the group and it is seen to be
an advantage

There are various ways insiders gain status:

Close relationship with government department and/or ministers

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They are seen outside the decision-making framework of governments and are not
Less likely to have their views taken into account
Make it more difficult for outsiders to achieve success
May have this status for a number of reasons
May be that they are not established enough
They may…

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demonstrations some with violence and damaged property and `tax strike' involved
hundreds of thousands of people who refused to pay the tax = success and poll tax abolished
2000 rise in fuel prices = People's Fuel Lobby = alliance of farmers, motorists, road hauliers
etc = blockaded fuel deports…

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Need opportunity to express feelings e.g. 2003 Iraq war, expanding airports or excess
bonus payments to bankers


Distinctions between pressure groups and political parties

Parties seek to gain power
Hoping to gain or achieve a share in government
Pressure groups…

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o Some pressure groups offer candidates for election at local and national level as a way of
publicising an issue
The anti-abortion `Right to Life' campaign, for example, has sought election for a few
However, this does not mean that the group is seeking power
o Some parties are…

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Direct action
Publicity = mass demonstration is most common
2003 Iraq war and grievances of Countryside Alliance and opposition to expansion of
Heathrow and Stansted Airports and anti-globalisation campaign
`stunts' and provocative action to draw attention both legal and illegal
Fathers4Justice dressed up as super heores and Buckingham palace and…

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Engage in mass civil Trade unions (public sector
disobedience expenditure cuts)

Involve celebrities and `big Anti-Tesco expansion groups
Plane Stupid
To pursue the legal rights of Appeals and judicial reviews in Trade Unions
members the courts to establish rights
which are threatened Stonewall (gay rights)

Age UK

The power…

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Factor Pressure group Evidence of success
Resources ­ financial and Countryside Alliance ­ The `watering down' of
organisational, giving a group organised mass anti-foxhunting legislation in
the ability and personnel to demonstrations in London 2004
mount a major campaign
Insider status ­ being Action on Smoking and Health A series…




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