Jonathan McIver Why Are Some Pressure Groups More Successful Than Others?

A Pressure group is best defined as an organisation which seeks to influence a policy, which has been put forward by the executive, legislature and the judiciary, And also by the local governments and the EU. Pressure groups are set out to achieve their beliefs and enforce them upon the community and the authority, this is sometimes done by any means possible, for example, ‘Fathers 4 Justice’ using various campaigning strategies, which caught the media attention. There are two types of pressure groups, an insider pressure group, or an outsider pressure group. An insider pressure group is one which has the backing of the government and is involved in parliament, for example Trade unions are favoured my the Labour party, along with education groups or pro Europe groups. An outsider pressure group is one completely outside the governmental ‘circle’, Such as Fathers 4 Justice. It is often hard to measure the amount of success achieved by some pressure groups, as the government often claims credit for acts made from p. groups. Also, pressure groups rely heavily on media attention, and if there is a lack of it, they may no longer be in the public eye, so they’re harder to trace. The specific membership of each pressure group plays a massive part in how successful the group turns out to be. The size of the group is important as a government is more likely to respond to larger pressure groups than smaller ones, as there are more potential votes to be won or lost. During the 1980’s, trade unions consisted of around 8 million people, however did not appear to hold any political advantage. These types of large groups suffered much discomfort at the hands of a lot of ministers. Government support for pressure groups is valuable, as each group may receive better treatment from a particular party such as anti- Europe groups being backed by the conservative party. Also, the Pensioner groups being supported by the Labour party. Some sectional groups can have special status, as the members could play a huge part in society, for example the police. Large businesses and commercial enterprises still have a big amount of influence, banks and financial institutions are important in the success or failure of a financial policy. This could help the success of a pressure group, as the government in more likely to conform, as they may not hold the power in the political battle. The country as a whole could be affected as such powerful industries may strike. Key industries that hold a strategic position include- big industries, firms and unions, business with large amounts of exports, emergency services, and organisations that provide vital information to the government. These could all hold strong positions in a fight for a policy or change of some sort. Each pressure groups resources contribute massively to the success of them. For example, the finance of the group plays a big part of the running of the group.

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Jonathan McIver The availability of funds does not always guarantee success, however money often means the size of the company increases, which may indicate that, as previously mentioned, big companies can hold strong positions within the running of the country. The trade unions have so much power, as money is gained through subscriptions from their members. The organisation of pressure groups is often behind the action that is done to help their cause, for example a high amount of staff, a strong management structure, and a network for recruiting new members. Strong organisation can help achieve the pressure groups aims, these are big advantages over smaller, less formal and organised movements. The countryside alliance in 1998 organised a massive demonstration in London, proving their preparedness, and amount of organisational skills. The fuel lobby in 2000 is a fine example of logistical organisation. The internet provided a great ally, as through it the group organised a huge protest in a very short space of time. Organisation is important as it can influence a huge number of people, and can help with a protest or demonstration as it puts the word out about the cause. Different tactics are used by pressure groups, which can add to the success of the group as a whole. For example, The ‘Snowdrop Campaign’ in 1996 used lobbying as a tactic to gain support for their ideas. This seemed to be effective, as there was a resulting gun amnesty, where 160,000 guns were handed in. The countryside alliance in the 1990s declared a massive demonstration on March 1st 1998, 300,000 protesters gathered in London, however, fox- hunting was still banned, however the cause raised a significant amount of awareness for their campaign. The fuel tax protest movement in 2000, blockaded petrol refineries to create widespread panic, this did not seem to affect the policy, and had less of an effect than the ‘countryside alliance’. However, this may not measure how successful a pressure group is, as the tactics may be useless at determining how much more success a group gets than another. Governmental support is very important to any pressure group, however some pressure groups rely on the fact that the government disagrees with its cause. The government is more likely to be influenced by a large number of its own supporters who make up the pressure groups membership. For example, Conservative administrations of the 1980s and 1990s were unsympathetic to unions as not many conservative members were likely to be a part of such a group. Some pressure groups may expect better treatment from a particular party, and the success of the group depends upon the beliefs of the government in power. This shows that governmental support affects the success of a pressure group, as if the party is in power, the

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Jonathan McIver cause will be looked at more closely than if the opposing party is in power. The strength of the opposition is a big factor in measuring a pressure groups success. Pressure groups are often seen as challenging the government’s views, however they are often interlocked in battles between each other group. It is often the group that gains the most media attention. If the group is classed as an ‘insider’ group, they’re less likely to face opposition from the government, which is a big lift for any group. However, outsider groups can face opposition from the government or any other group of some sort. Examples of conflicting groups include the animal rights campaigner’s vs. the fur trade. Also, Transport 2000 vs. the motorcar industry. The result of these conflicts will result on which government is in power, however on many occasions some groups are favourites each and every time, no matter which government is in power. The amount and strength of the opposing group to a specific group can explain why some pressure groups are more successful than others. This is because if there is a weaker opposition, less people are likely to disagree or see a different point of view to the pressure groups idea. Each pressure group is reliant on the public’s opinion. If the public opinion if good toward a particular issue or group, many MP’s are inclined to listen to the group with public support. This is because MP’s care very much about how they’re seen in the public, so they try to go with the publics wishes on many issues. For example, equal pay for women, reducing the age of consent for homosexuals to 18. Therefore, public opinion is one of the most important factors in why some pressure groups are more successful than others, as MP’s and governments can set a pressure group well on their way to getting their policy or cause passed, or into the public eye. Also, if the public widely agree with the cause of a pressure group, the bigger the possible demonstration may be. In conclusion, the question ,’Why are some pressure groups more successful than others’ is in fact very hard to judge and answer. This is because the media is a big influence on the coverage of an issue, rather than the pressure group itself. Also, if many pressure groups campaign on a singular issue, where does the credit go to, therefore it is hard to measure a pressure groups success. The membership of each pressure group consists of the size, the social class of members and the strategic importance of the membership. Membership is important as it shows the public what type of people are getting affected by the cause at hand, it could familiarise the public with the issue. Pressure groups resources consist of finance, organisation and its tactics. This means that the pressure groups long term future is secured, which could be seen as success, as the group has survived for some time. The external environment consists of government support, public opinion and opposition. This shows that the specific pressure Mr Evans

Jonathan McIver group will be judged by the public, the government and other pressure groups, however success could be measured in different ways, depending on the person looking at the matter.

Mr Evans

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