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Decision-Making in Central Government. Pressure Groups. What Are Pressure Groups?. Often individuals have to go beyond party politics to achieve their aims. Not everyone will have voted for the current government – therefore not everyone will be satisfied with its policies.

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Presentation Transcript
what are pressure groups
What Are Pressure Groups?
  • Often individuals have to go beyond party politics to achieve their aims.
  • Not everyone will have voted for the current government – therefore not everyone will be satisfied with its policies.
  • People with little interest in politics can be provoked into political action by an issue which directly affects them.
what are pressure groups3
What Are Pressure Groups?

Pressure Groups are non-elected

organisations which try to influence

government decision-making on behalf of

their members

what are pressure groups4
What Are Pressure Groups?

There are two types of pressure groups:

  • Interest groups – concerned with protecting the interests of a particular group of people e.g trade unions, Age Concern. This will often mean they are concerned about a range of issues
  • Promotional or ‘Cause groups – they promote a particular cause e.g. Fathers 4 Justice, Shelter, Greenpeace, Amnesty.
what actions might a pressure group use to promote their cause
What Actions Might A Pressure Group Use to Promote Their Cause?
  • Protest/Demonstration
  • Lobby MPs
  • Media coverage
  • Strike
  • Petition
  • Letters/e-mails to politicians
  • Posters
  • Websites
  • Surveys
  • Direct Action – aggressive/illegal
to what extent are pressure groups undemocratic
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Undemocratic?
  • Some pressure groups have substantial resources and well-off members.

They are able to do more than groups which have less money e.g. groups like the Countryside Alliance often have more media success than anti-fox hunting groups.

to what extent are pressure groups undemocratic7
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Undemocratic?
  • Some pressure groups may break the law.

Some groups that oppose animal testing e.g Animal Aid, may break into laboratories and release the animals used for testing. This brings a pressure group into conflict with the law and can cause resentment among the public.

to what extent are pressure groups undemocratic8
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Undemocratic?
  • Some pressure groups have little influence over government decisions.

Despite widespread support, a pressure group may have little influence over government decisions. Any consultation between pressure groups and the government takes place behind closed doors and it is difficult to assess the overall influence a pressure group can have.

to what extent are pressure groups undemocratic9
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Undemocratic?
  • Many pressure groups are not democratic in themselves.

The decision-making process within some pressure groups often ignores the wishes of its membership. Leaders are often appointed for life, making it difficult for members to change policy or make the leadership accountable.

to what extent are pressure groups democratic
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Democratic?
  • Insider pressure groups may provide information that will help the government to make informed decisions on new policies.

For example the Automobile Association (AA) is often consulted about proposed changes to transport policy in the UK. Policies that develop from this process will be based on the latest evidence and will have a greater chance of gaining public support.

to what extent are pressure groups democratic11
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Democratic?
  • Pressure Groups can prevent the government pursuing policies that may be unpopular or ineffective.

For example, the anti-poll tax campaign in the 1980s was successful in getting the government to change a system of local taxation that was making poor people poorer.

to what extent are pressure groups democratic12
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Democratic?
  • Pressure Groups allow minority views to be expressed in a more effective manner.

Often the views of small groups are ignored because they do not impact on the majority of people in the population.

to what extent are pressure groups democratic13
To What Extent Are Pressure Groups Democratic?
  • Pressure Groups encourage individuals to take a much more active part in the decision-making process.

Pressure groups are more likely to be involved in single issues. If people actively participate, it must be good for democracy. For example, more than 8 million people are members of trade unions. This gives them the opportunity to campaign for the rights of workers.

role of pressure groups
Role of Pressure Groups
  • Provide specialist information to government e.g. National Farmers Union (NFU)
  • Informs public about issues
  • Allows public to become involved between elections
  • Increases participation during a period of voter apathy at elections
  • Able to scrutinise the work of government and can publish criticisms when required
role of pressure groups15
Role of Pressure Groups
  • Direct action used by outsider groups e.g. Greenpeace, Peoples Fuel Lobby.
  • Use of demonstrations, petitions etc to gain public support to put pressure on governments e.g. Snowdrop campaign (ban on handguns), those for and against ban on fox hunting
  • Lobbying pressure used by insider groups in particular to advise government and to influence before government policy is finalised e.g. NFU during Foot and Mouth outbreak