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LESSON 1: Pressure Groups

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Introduction

LESSON 1: Pressure Groups 1. A pressure group is a body which seeks to influence government policy or public opinion, but without actually seeking governmental office itself. Unlike political parties, which offer policies on virtually every issue, pressure groups tend to be concerned with one specific issue or a narrow range of similar issues. For example - animal rights, environmental protection or tackling poverty. 2. A Sectional pressure group is one that represents the interests of a particular section of society, usually on the basis of occupation or profession. As such, their members have a direct, material interest in belonging to the group, for they usually obtain visible, tangible benefits. The most obvious sectional pressure groups are Trade Unions. These groups have "closed" membership, meaning that only those people in the relevant occupation, profession or section of society can join. 3. A Cause pressure group tends to be concerned with either a social or ethical issue (a 'cause') or with campaigning on behalf of others in society who they perhaps consider are not being treated fairly. Many cause groups therefore, are focused on broader issues relating to notions of equality, fairness, and justice, human or animal rights. For example - Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace campaign to save the environment. Unlike sectional groups, cause groups exercise "open" membership, so anyone who supports the same cause can join. 4. THE SECTIONAL & CAUSE GROUP CLASSIFICATION DOES NOT HELP TO CLARIFY THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRESSURE GROUP. ...read more.

Middle

2. Private Members Bills. Each November, at the start of the new parliamentary session, the names of twenty backbench MPs are drawn in a ballot for the right to present a Private Member Bill. These twenty Mps are invariably approached by numerous pressure groups, each trying to persuade an MP to introduce a bill benefiting its cause or membership. 3. Departmental Select Committees. The role of DSC's is to examine the administration, expenditure and policies of government departments. Pressure Groups can approach these with their ideas. 4. Backbench committees. 5. Using the courts - questioning the legality of some government policy/law, for example. 6. Using the media 7. Direct action. 11. ? INSIDER BOTH OUTSIDER Amending legislation Private Members Bills Departmental Select committees. Backbench Committees Using the Media Publishing Advertising Internet Opinion Polls Violence Demonstrations Boycotts Protests Petitions 12. Pressure Groups should really target the Prime Minister, civil servants and ministers as well as committees as they hold the most power. Pressure Groups, however tend to target individual MPs and the mass media, which have much less influence. 13. Whom do pressure groups lobby at the EU level and why? The European Commission as this is where all policy is drafted. They have the right to initiate policy, and then to draft the legislation. Once drafter this is then difficult to amend so Pressure Groups try to influence while the legislation is still being written. ...read more.

Conclusion

These are clearly things that not all groups are going to possess, and in fact are things that only the most professional groups will have. Smaller pressure groups perhaps set up by individuals about particular issues will not have the large amounts of money necessary to travel regularly to Brussels, let alone to establish offices there. Also they might not have the knowledge to deal with all the different routes to successful campaigning and lobbying at EU level. Where as for larger organisations they will be able to have an office in the European Capital with professional staff who knows how to deal with the EU and have experience in doing so. There fore lobbying at this level is definitely far more feasible for large, experienced PGs, and is probably entirely inappropriate for smaller ones with few funds and limited resources. LESSON 5: Pluralism and Democracy. 20. Pluralism means to disperse power over a wide number of institutions, as opposed to maintaining political power in the hands of a few elite organisations and political parties. 21. Do pressure groups maintain pluralism? YES NO Keep politicians in touch with public opinion between elections Provide an alternative viewpoint Protection for minorities Provide info & advice for decisions Don't necessarily reflect the views of the majority Governments listen to powerful groups & ignore others The strong groups limit govts scope for action - govts feel they have to respond to large groups Can marginalize parliament Can undermine law ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Lakes Politics - Pressure Group Project ...read more.

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