- Like minded people organised to influence government.
- do NOT stand for election - only influence government decisions.
- narrow/one issue focus.
- smaller political parties (such as BNP, SWP, Greens) often considered pressure groups.
- Intrinsically linked with political parties (e.g. Trade Unions in the Labour Party).
- Some pressure groups have wider focus - CBI - interested in many policy matters.
Sectional pressure groups
- Act on behalf of a particular part of society - examples CBI, British Medical Associaton, Trade Union Congress.
Promotional pressure groups
- To promote a particular cause - examples CND, Greenpeace, Shelter, Amnesty International.
- Strong links with decision makers - powerful - sectional groups more likely to be insiders.
- Excluded by government either because of their own choice or because they are unacceptable - e.g. - IRA considered terrorist organisation.
- Changes between outsider/insider - TUC was influential under Labour in the 1970s but not Conservatives.
The Party System in Britain
It is often argued that Britain has a two party system, a three party system and a dominant party system
- Two party system: Either Labour or Conservatives in government since 1945.
- Three party system: Lib Dems serious contenders - 23% of the vote in 2005.
- Dominant party system: Conservatives in government 1979-1997, Labour in government 1997-to date.
- A group of like minded people organised to gain political power to govern the country
- Focus on a wider range of issues to implement changes when in government
- In democracies, parties propose candidate for election.
- Represent the electorate in politics
- In Britain, political parties dominant both government and elections.
- Parties also recruit the personnel of government.
- Political parties make it possible for voters to hold governments accountable. If they feel the government has failed to live up to its party's election promises, or to display proper standards of competence and integrity, they can vote for an opposiiton party.
- The party is essentially a link between the citizen and the state; party is one of the devices which makes possible citizen influence on the policies of government.
- British parliamentary politics is Adversary politics. Two large and disciplined parties confront each other across the despatch box in the House of Commons. At the end of the debate, Members divide, usually joined by those who often have not heard a word of the debate.
- Rebellion in the division lobbies is more common than it was 40 years ago but conformity to party remains the norm for Members.
- Adversary politics is a term borrowed from the courts of law. The parties engage in what may seem mortal, if to some eyes sham, combat.
- A party spokesman acts like a prosecuting counsel or defending barrister, putting the most powerful case that he can, irrespective of any reservations or doubts he may feel in private.
- The spirit of adversary politics does not necessarily carry with it the connotation that the parties are divided by a deep ideological gulf.
- Adversary politics is as compatible with parties whose differences are shallow and transitory…
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