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Do you consider the political activities of organised groups (pressure groups) to enhance or threaten the quality of democracy in Britain today?

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Do you consider the political activities of organised groups (pressure groups) to enhance or threaten the quality of democracy in Britain today? The role of pressure groups in the UK can be seen both to strengthen and weaken democracy as there is a significant case for either argument. For instance Thatcher believed that Democracy was threatened by Pressure groups whilst Blair has always had more 'friendly' relations with them illustrating the different opinions of those in office. However, we should also consider whether pressure groups are 'insider' or 'outsider' as those working within state apparatus tend to be more effective than there 'outsider' counterparts. Surely though how can pressure groups be good for democracy when they exert non-legitimate power as they are unelected? Since pressure groups are unelected this means there is not only is the problem of the non-legitimate power but also the fact that pressure groups are selfish, and do not consider the costs of there actions for others in society, this is especially the case of single-issue groups. They simply want there own demands fulfilled, even if that means fewer resources are available for other purposes, so the government would be pressured in to spending money on the particular issue groups idea meaning potentially meaning less resources on one objective means there is less available for something else. ...read more.


Even though they may allow the public to influence between election times pressure groups themselves are not even democratic or representative of their own members. The groups themselves generally are undemocratic for example the leader will be appointed simply because he went to public school such as Oxbridge. Similarly although many commentators suggest that pressure groups are essential for minorities they do however, often overlook the views of single parents and minority races. This point is demonstrated in Politics UK Pressure groups are often not representative of their members and in many cases do not have democratic appointment procedures for senior staff (cited in Jones et al, 2001, 224). This particular view is also taken up by people such as Margaret Thatcher and the New Right as there opinion of them was that cooperation between government and pressure groups was neither democratic nor functional. She stated that her party had been democratically elected to run the government, not the pressure groups (cited in Budge et al, 2004, 326). The role of 'insider' pressure groups could be argued though to enhance the quality of democracy as they could provide expertise knowledge to the MP's shown by the fact Blair arranged to have quarterly meetings with the TUC in 2000. ...read more.


Furthermore it can be disputed that it allows the voices of minorities to be heard such as single parents. This coupled with the fact that pressure groups give expertise knowledge to the MP's and civil servants whilst acting in our interests to protect to our rights and stop over powerful governments from passing unfair legislation you would therefore assume that pressure groups are beneficial to the democratic process. However, this is not the case as I alluded to earlier the majority of pressure groups are not even internally democratic themselves as the leaders are not elected and do not represent the views of their members. One of the most important issues is that of those inside state apparatus, as do you actually have any right to be there? The answer is no as they exert non-legitimate power to influence government to try and get their narrow means met. Margaret Thatcher is indeed correct in the earlier argument I put forward about government being elected and not pressure groups. Even though generally pressure groups threaten the quality of democracy in Britain they are useful in some ways, as I alluded to earlier the role of Greenpeace and how they aimed to change the laws regarding the environment, this is particularly important and shows they do have some role to play in democracy in Britain even though on the whole they do threaten democracy. ...read more.

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