Revision notes on Pressure groups

Very detailed notes with examples on pressure groups for unit 1 Edexcel government and politics :)

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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 of representative democracies, and any sign of them in a
nation shows an open and progressive democracy.
Influence decisions. They do not want to make them themselves
Seek to influence details of decisions e.g. 2003-4 parliament was debating the issue of fox
hunting the pro hunt lobby Conservative Alliance opposed any kind of ban but was going to
fail so tried to influence details
Operate at different levels of government in the court = Nov 2009 in the Supreme Court 7
banks, backed by the British Bankers Association, successfully overturned a ruling that the
Office of Fair Trading could investigate their system of charging cxustomers for unauthorised
overdrafts
March 2010 High court = coalition of environmental groups including Green Peace and the
Campaign to Protect Rural England = successfully forced government to conduct additional
reviews into its decision to build a third runway at Heathrow airport on the grounds that plan
conflicted with official carbon-emissions targets
Classification of pressure groups
Sectional/promotional pressure groups
Sectional:
`interest groups' or `protective groups'
Defined by a common uniting feature of the group's members
Often the uniting feature will be economic interests but sectional groups can also represent
social groups or those who have other common interests such as sufferers from a particular
disease.
Tend to be self-interested as they are mainly concerned with their own interest
However, sometimes, as with teachers' Unions, they believe that the interests of their
members and those of society as a whole are the same
Examples:
Unite ­ Britain's biggest trade union, representing general workers
FBU ­ The Fire Brigades Union
NFU ­ The National Farmers Union, representing farmers interests
Taxpayer's Alliance ­ looking after the interests of all those who pay taxes
AA ­ Automobile Association, representing the interests of motorists
Age UK ­ concerned with the interests of the elderly
The Multiple sclerosis Society ­ representing sufferers, carers and researchers
CBI ­ the Confederation of the British Industry, representing many British businesses
Forest ­ defends the rights and interests of tobacco smokers

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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
Examples:
Friends of the Earth ­ campaigning on a range of issues concerning environmental
protection
Greenpeace ­ similar to Friends of the Earth, but tending to be more militant
ASH ­ Action on smoking and Health,…read more

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And whether they are successful
Insider
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
Consulted regularly
Important if they are involved in early development and drafting of legislation
`core insiders' because of their special insider status
Representatives on permanent policy-advising committees
Regularly be consulted by parliamentary select committees of MPs…read more

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They are seen outside the decision-making framework of governments and are not
consulted
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 not wish to be insiders because that would limit their independence
Or they may not wish to be accountable for their actions
Outsiders have greater freedom to act as they wish, including acts of civil…read more

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People's Fuel Lobby = alliance of farmers, motorists, road hauliers
etc = blockaded fuel deports and blocked main roads to publicise issue = cancellation of
petrol tax increase
Anti-Iraq war coalition of 2002/4 and Make Poverty History = more aid for countries Live Aid
= global status
Association of British Drivers = e-petition with 1.…read more

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Need opportunity to express feelings e.g. 2003 Iraq war, expanding airports or excess
bonus payments to bankers
ORDER THESE IN IMPORTANCE IF ASKED WHAT THE FUNCTIONS ARE
Distinctions between pressure groups and political parties
Parties seek to gain power
Hoping to gain or achieve a share in government
Pressure groups do not have that aspiration
They seek to influence but not to govern
Greenpeace = long campaign against trials of GM food crops = dangerous and
environmentally unsound = great benefits of GM foods e.…read more

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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
candidates
However, this does not mean that the group is seeking power
o Some parties are so narrow in their aims that they look more like pressure groups
It could be argued that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) does not seek power
But tries to put pressure on other parties, especially the…read more

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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 animal rights stop
ambulances and threaten laboratory workers Animal Liberation Front
Technology increased it
Mobilising public opinion
Public attachment to political parties has been weakened in modern times, governments
increasingly sensitive to public opinion
Want…read more

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Engage in mass civil Trade unions (public sector
disobedience expenditure cuts)
Involve celebrities and `big Anti-Tesco expansion groups
names'
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 and influence of pressure groups
Pluralism and elitism is really important
Political culture in the UK as being one of pluralism in nature
Wide range of groups, interests, beliefs and ideologies = competing for attention…read more

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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 of pieces of legislation
established in government to deter and reduce smoking
circles and well trusted
Tactics ­ groups may find a The Save England's Forests The cancellation of government
good formula for influencing Campaign…read more

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