Pressure Groups

HideShow resource information


  • An organisation seeking to influence decision-makers in relation to a particular issue, or policy. Unlike political parties, pressure groups do not stand for elected office.


  • A political system where a wide range of beliefs, ideologies and ideas is tolerated and allowed to flourish. It also implies a society where many different groups are active and free to operate.

Similarities with Parties

  • Develop policies they hope to implement.
  • Develop policies across a wide range of concerns.
    • (PG) e.g. trade unions, Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
  • Put candidates up for election.
    • (PG) e.g. Right to Life, anti-European groups.
  • Recognisable philosophy.
    • (PG) e.g. UK Independence Party (UKIP), Referendum Party.
  • Formal organisation.
    • (PG) e.g. trade unions, CBI.

Differences with Parties

  • Parties pursue governmental power.
    • PGs influence.
  • Parties put up candidates for office.
    • Most PGs do not fight elections.
  • Parties adopt policies covering all aspects of government responsibility.
    • PGs have a narrow range of concerns.
  • Parties must act responsibility and respect democratic process.
    • PGs can use direct action e.g. fuel protects (Autumn 2000).
  • Party financing is legally controlled.
    • PGs no financial constraints.

Minor parties such as UKIP & the Green Party (started as pressure group) blur the distinction between a political party and a pressure group.


  • Effective channels of communication between people and government.
  • Provide opportunities for political participation by wide variety of people.
  • Ensure minority interests are represented.
  • Act as a control on power of the state.
  • Provide opportunities for active citizenship.
  • Help institutionalise peaceful conflict and so preventing disorder and instability.


  • Act as vehicle for 'vested interests', promoting own welfare at the expense of the majority.
  • Some wield disproportionate amount of influence, not justified by their size.
  • May not be internally democratic, reflecting views of mass membership over small elites.


  • Insider - close and regular contact with decision-makers, and government ministers e.g. National Farmers Union, who have always had a close working relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture.
    • Sponsorship of MPs.
    • Direct lobbying of ministers.
    • Participation in official committees.
    • Representation on quangos.
    • Evidence to parliamentary committees.
  • Outsider - little or no contact with decision-makers, often due to ideological differences e.g. Animal Liberation Front are considered so extreme that no mainstream political party would bring them into political process.
    • Mass public demonstrations.
    • Petitions.
    • Campaigns of civil disobedience.
    • Media campaigns.
    • Illegal activities to gain publicity.
  • Promotional (cause) - represents, or promotes, a specific…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all UK pressure groups and protest movements resources »