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Government And Politics- Pressure Groups

Distinguish between promotional and sectional pressure groups:

  • Sectional groups – involved in defending their own economic interests, e.g., trade unions. An example of a sectional pressure group is the NUT – the national union of teachers.
  • Promotional pressure groups – campaign on behalf of a cause with no direct link or economic self interest. For example, animal welfare groups – RSPCA
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Government And Politics- Pressure Groups

Explain 3 factors that affect the power of pressure groups.

  • Elected officials seem more and more untrustworthy, so people are now seeking outlets for their idealism elsewhere. Pressure groups are a good outlet for this, primarily cause groups. One example: RSPB has more members than all 3 political parties
  • General rise in living standards – when economy is bad, living standards are low and people don’t care about causes because they have financial worries. Living standards have risen and economy is doing well so people are more willing to participate in campaigns.
  • It is becoming more and more easy to work with the government, and get insider access, which many traditional pressure groups are doing. This positively influenced their power. Example: national farmers union
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Government An Politics- Pressure Groups

Why have pressure groups become more important in the political process?

  • With electoral turnout and party membership declining, party politics is in crisis. The RSPB has more members than all 3 main political parties. Pressure groups therefore encourage participation in politics, and ensure pluralism (the idea that power is shared, rather than being in the hands of the government).
  • Media and public cynical about party politics, but listen to pressure groups, e.g. Greenpeace on gm food.
  • Since 1997, labour has have had a comfortable majority in the HoC, making parliamentary opposition ineffective. This means pressure groups are more necessary – for example, when several pressure groups that supported the ‘right to roam’ joined together because they feared an infringement of this.
  • Pressure groups deal with issues that the public are interested in but parties neglect, i.e. the dangers of GM food, animal welfare, abortion.
  • Lack of policy differenced between parties (especially since DC became leader) ran all party politics seem increasingly irrelevant compared with the issues pressure groups campaign on.
  • EU growth is reducing the power of parties, and pressure groups are increasingly able to bypass the British government and appeal to the EU direct – both the TUC and CBI have offices in Brussels for this.
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