Give five functions of a pressure group
1. Provide a means for popular participation- Very few people are members of political parties and there only involvement in the political system is to vote every five years, leading to a democratic defecit. Pressure groups provide a means to influence key decisions between elections.
2. Provide specialist knowledge to government- A lot of groups contain experts in their field who the government are able to consult with and provide expert health and advice. For example the BMA was able to give the government advice on the effects of passive smoking which justified the smoking ban in public places.
3. Raises issues that political parties won't touch due to sensitivity- For example the Howard League for penal reform, campaigns for better conditions and rights for prisoners.
4. Educating people in political issues- People are not always informed on a whole range of political issues, pressure groups will attempt to educate people- such as the BUAV (British Union of Anti-Vivisectionists).
5. Represent minorities who can't represent themselves- Pressure groups make sure that they are represented in the political system. For example MIND campaign for mentally ill.
Give three features of pressure groups..
1. Seek to influence government policy- They do not expect to make the decisions themselves, they may seek to influence not only the decisions themselves but the details of those decisions. For example The Countryside Alliance opposed the ban on fox hunting.
2. Attempting to advance a cause or interest- They attempt to protect or advance a particular cause or interest by promoting a specific issue and raising it up the political agenda. It may be a single issue such as Fathers 4 Justice or a whole cluster of issues relating to the environment dealt with by Greenpeace.
3. Operating at different levels of political life- They must first identify where key decisions are made and then apply pressure in that location. For example local level include the local council, then subnational; Scottish Parliament, National; Westminster, International The Eu. The National Union of Farmers attempt to influence the EU in Brussels.
Give six differences between pressure groups and p
1. Political Parties desire to desire to achieve political representation and power - Pressure groups seek to gain political influence instead.
2. Political Parties have broader aims then pressure groups
3. Political Parties and pressure groups use different methods to achieve their aims
4. Political Parties accept public accountability for their actions and elections- Pressure groups are not as accountable for their actions.
5. Political Parties and pressure groups have different types of organisation- Pressure groups are less hierachal and have a less formal structure.
6. There is a difference in the sense of responsibility- pressure groups usually break the law whilst political parties tend to support it.
Give five methods and tactics of pressure groups '
1. Professional lobyists- Professional lobyists provide pressure groups with access to MP's, ministers and officials in return for a fee. The Cash for Access Scandal showed that a lobbying firm run by former Labour advisor Derek Draper was offering access to government ministers.
2. Influencing the core executive- Many groups aim to access ministers and civil servants at the earliest possible stage helping to influence the formation of government policy and the making of legislation. Groups can also provide specialist knowledge in certain areas.
3. Influencing Parliament- Pressure groups will attempt to influence indicidual MP's who can put pressure on their leadership to adopt the policy of a pressure group. Around 60% of groups contact an MP once a month, groups may offer a salary to represent their interests. For example Ken Clarke represents British American Tobacco (BAC).
4. Influencing Political Parties- Groups may attempt to influence the policies of a particular party by giving it donations. For example Bernie Ecclestone is exempt from tobacco laws.
5. Influencing the European Union- The NFU keeps permanent representatives at the EU to influence agricultural law.
Give four methods and tactics of pressure groups '
1. The Media- TV and newspapers coverage is important in determining which issues appear on the political agenda, both nationally and locally. Groups will issue 'press releases' and cultivate contacts within the media helping to create a climate of public opinion. Celebrity endorsements will increase a groups profile, certain celebrities have fronted high profile media campaigns such as Jamie Oliver and Sir Ian Mckellan.
2. Publicity campaigns and stunts- Publicity campaigns are often launched when a particular issue is in the news. Advertising campaignin such as NO2ID campaigns against ID cards and publicity stunts by the Animal rights group PETA.
3. Direct action- An action rather then attempting to talk or influence those in power. This can take many forms such as protesting 'stop the war coalition' and industrial action like strikes. Other forms include the 'go slow' and 'work to rule'. For example the FBU (fire brigades union campaigning for better pay)
4. Consumer boycotts- Groups attempt to target a company by encouraging people not to buy their product, this was shown in the anti-nestle campaign- where people campaigned against unethical marketing of baby milk.
Give six factors affecting pressure group success.
1. Opposition strengths- Pressure group activity becomes a battle of wills, the stronger the opposition the less likely that the group will be successful. For example The Countryside Alliance vs. The League against cruel sports.
2. Government support- This can be a major factor, there is no doubt that insider groups tend to be more successful, to an extent it also depends on who is in government. However it could be argued that insider status can 'tie a group in red tape'.
3. Finance- Being wealthy is no guarantee of a groups success. For example the NVLA sought to reduce the coverage of sex and violence on TV.
4. Opinion of Public- For example Jamie Oliver's commitment to win more funding.
5. Strategic Position- For example the Police Federation and the BMA.
6. Organisation and size of membership.- Fathers 4 Justice, Live Aid, RAC- some capture the publics imagination and some don't.
Give four good aspects about pressure groups relat
1. Keep Government in touch with public opinion inbetween elections- Governments can make a full decision with the full knowledge of what the public thinks- for example the stop the war coalition led a march of 2000 people through London to protest against the Iraq war.
2. Allows wider participation in the political process- In our current representative democratic system we only have a general election once every four or five years. This means our ability to participate in politics is severely limited . For example through becoming a member of Greenpeace people are able to directly particpate and influence environmental policy.
3. Pressure groups give a voice to minority/ethnic groups- For example SHELTER represent the interests of homeless people, disregarded by mainstream political parties.
4. Educate people about important issues- Pressure groups have a role in educating people about important issues. They argue that this will lead to a better informed electorate who will be able to make a more informed decision when it comes to elections or referendums. For example the League Against Cruel Sports educated people about fox hunting.
Give four reasons why pressure groups are bad for
1. Pressure groups do not have equal power and influence- Those groups who are wealthy and in a strong strategic position tend to have more influence regardless of the merits of their cause. Often success is brought by wealthy and powerful groups who only represent a minority of people, when more worthy groups representing large numbers of people like the homeless have little or no influence. For example the Cash for questions affair revealed some MP's were willing to accept cash bribes to represent some groups interests.
2. Preventing a democratically elected government from carrying out its role- Stopping the mandate upon which the government secured the election. For example trade unions had a powerful role in Labour weakening the economy during the 'winter of discontent' in 1978-9.
3. Pressure groups use undemocratic or illegal methods- Many felt that the undemocratic and illegal methods adopted by some pressure groups work against democracy. Some pressure groups have gone further adopting terrorist tactics. For example members of the countryside alliance were involved in invading the house of commons and throwing flour over the Prime Minister.
4. Existence of pressure groups may not lead to a better informed electorate- Campaigns only really provide one sided views.