what is a Pressure Group
A Pressure Group is a group of people who:
- Aim to influence the policies and actions of the govt.
- They seek to exert influence from outside, rather than winning or exercising govt power. (external to the govt).
- PGs usually have a narrow issue focus, or a single issue.
- E.g. Opposing a planned road development.
- Their members are united by either:
- A shared belief in a particular cause.
- Or a common set of interests.
- Thus, members who have different ideologies or party preferences, may work happily together in the same PG.
The nature of PGs
PGs high status usually depends on their success in the media, and the PG universe also includes:
- Churches and charities.
- Businesses and trade organisations
- Think tanks, who are formed to develop policy proposals and campaign.
Some PGs engage with politics only as a secondary activity, such as:
- The AA lobby govt over motoring taxes and road safety.
PGs act as a channel between the govt and the people because:
- They are a part of civil society.
- They operate outside of govt control.
Similarities between PGs and Political Parties
PGs and political parties are similar because:
- Both PGs and political parties aim to have public support.
- They both represent people in society.
- PGs and political parties contribute to political participation.
- They contribute to the policy process and develops policies.
- They both use the media for influence and positive representation.
- PGs and political parties can put forward candidates for election.
- E.g. Legalise Cannabis Alliance put up 21 candiates in the 2005 elections.
- Both have a form of formal organisation.
- UKIP is a self styled political party who puts candidates forward for election, and has a single issue.
- The Green Party and Greenpeace are similar in their interests and causes.
The differences between PGs and Political Parties
However, PGs and Political parties are different because:
- Political parties seeks to gain power. PGs seek to influence those in power.
- Political parties have a broad range of political issues. PGs usually have 1 issue or a narrow range of issues to focus on.
- Political parties have the responsibility of holding office. PGs do not have this responsibility.
- Political parties put forward candidates for election because they want to win power or govt. PGs put candidates forward for election usually to raise awareness and popularity.
- Political parties have a clear legal status and are held accountable. PGs are not held accountable to the people.
Reasons why it is difficult to distinguish between
It is difficult to distinguish between PGs and political parties because:
- They may form part of larger social movements:
- These are large groups of people who share beliefs, but have little organisation.
- E.g. The Labour movement was encouraged by the Labour Party and trade unions.
- E.g.2 The Green Movement consists of both the Green Party and Greenpeace, along with other environmental PGs.
- They may use elections as a tactical weapons:
- Any group that puts candidates forward for election, are seen as political parties.
- However political parties and PGs have different reasons for doing so.
- E.g. the Legalise Cannabis Alliance put 21 candidates forward for the 2005 GE, but has since deregistered as a party.
- They may have a narrow issue focus:
- PGs usually have narrow issue focus, but some political parties do so aswell.
- E.g. The BNP is primarily concerned with race and immigration.
- E,g, 2 The Green Party places a greater emphasis on environmental issues, such as pollution and climate change.
Examples of PGs
Examples of PGs include:
- Greenpeace campaigns to:
- Stop fires in Indonesia, demands climate justice, save dugongs, stand up for human rights and fight for animals.
- They do not accept govt or corporation funding.
- They want to create a peaceful and nuclear free world.
- Stop the War Coalition campaigns to:
- Make war illegal, oppose racism and prevent and end wars in Afganistan, Iraq, Libya etc.
- They also oppose the British establishment's disastrous addition to war and its squandering of public resources on miliatarism.
- They formed after Bush announced 'War on terror'.
- Father 4 Justice campaigns for:
- Fathers' rights over their children.
- They sat on Harriet Harman's house as she questioned whether the 'presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion.'
- Frack Off (opooses drilling for gas).
- Plane Stupid (climate change activists).
- UK Uncut (against capitalsim and profits and tax dodgers).