Pressure group organisation and 4 different ways that they gain media attention.

image 5
Pressure group organisation and 4 different ways that they gain media attention.

A pressure group is an organisation made up of like minded individual decision making. Some individuals feel as though they will have more success in pressuring the government as a group, rather than as an individual. Members of cause pressure groups usually have a shared belief or view that has nothing to do with the members material welfare. For this, they are sometimes known as ‘public interest groups’ as they look after the interests of society as a whole.

An example of this is Amnesty international, who fight for human rights, or extinction rebellion who campaign against climate change. A more recent, successful pressure groups who have been very active is Black Lives Matter. Factors which make some pressure groups more effective than others are their core aims, relationship with the government, organisation, leadership and resources.

Public sympathy- pressure group tactics

The core aims of a pressure group can make some more effective than others. If the public are sympathetic to the aims of a group, then they are far more likely to be successful. Pressure groups try to have a good reputation. This is because those who feel as though their views are not represented in political parties can share their ideas through pressure groups. For example, the CND.

Lobbying also a main role of pressure groups in the UK. This is where a representative pressure group meets with a politician to discuss us their views or ideas. Pressure groups give people the opportunity to participate in political process between elections. This provides a voice for those who are below the voting age and allows them to give their ideas. Pressure groups can also educate the general public about actions of the government, many groups closely scrutinise activates of the government and raise issues which they have through media.

They can also stimulate debates on issues for example the Child Poverty action group have been very vocal about the impact of government welfare changes on children, UK uncut try to stimulate debate by using direct action to highlight tac avoidance by big companies.

Relationship with government- pressure group tactics

image 7

A pressure groups relationship with the government determines its success. If the government recognises that the aims of a pressure group are compatible with it’s own views, it then enhances their chances of success. Insider groups work with the government and outsider groups tend to have different aims to the government and decision makers is a crucial factor for them to be successful.

For example, BMA is a pressure group which campaigned for a ban on smoking in cars with children who are under 16, they also supported plans for minimum price on alcohol in Scotland.

The Scottish Government aims to improve health in Scotland, therefore the Government were happy to introduce these policies as they were compatible with their own views. This is a good example of an insider group as it is consulted as a matter of course on health-related matters by the Government.

However, being an insider group does not necessarily mean that you are going to be successful. For example, in 2016 the BMA could not come to an agreement with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over conditions for junior doctors, and this resulted in strike action. Outsider pressure groups are outside the decision-making process so generally have less influence. The Government often disagrees with their aims, so this means that they are not consulted about new laws.

Media methods- pressure group tactics

Outsider pressure groups use methods which gain media and public attention to allow their views to be heard. Trade Unions tend to be more successful with a left-wing Government, for example Labour. Trade Unions have a good relationship with Labour and Labour Governments are much more likely to listen to the demands of Trade Unions. Conservative Governments are less likely to agree with the views of Trade Unions.

For example, in 2021 the Conservative Government introduced a law which made it harder for union members to go on strike. This highlights that who is in Government can often determine the success or otherwise of Pressure Groups.

Some groups outside of parliament are more effective than others in influencing governmental decision-making. For example, insider groups can be said to be more successful and effective in influencing government policy than outsider groups because Government are more likely to listen to Insider Groups or ask their advice on Issues.

Insider groups generally have strong links to the government and are often asked by the government for their opinion and ideas on areas that they are familiar with. 

For example, the Government regularly consulted the British Medical Association during the Covid Pandemic. The success of insider lobby groups often depend on the political party in power, for example, a pro-business, pro-employer group such as the CBI are likely to have more success when a Conservative government is in power.

Likewise, an SNP government in Scotland with Humza Yousaf as First Minister will be more likely to listen to pro independence groups such as All Under One Banner as they are more likely to share similar aims. The effectiveness of these groups therefore will often depend upon the political leanings of which party is in power.

The organisation, leadership and resources which a pressure group has affect its success. A well-financed group such as Amnesty International can afford to employ professional lobbyists and pay for advertising campaigns in the media. For example, Amnesty International campaigned for Boris Johnson to get involved in the case of a British woman in jail in Iran. 

This shows that the amount of funds which are available to a group can affect its chances of success. Also, if a pressure group has many members and can organise effective campaigns, they will be more successful. However, if a pressure group has little support or funding then it is less likely to be successful. This is because they are then limited on what they can do to gain Government attention and support.

Campaign tactics- pressure group tactics

image 6

attention, for example political stunts in the hope that this approach will influence decision makers. In recent years, groups such as Extinction Rebellion have taken action including protests and publicity stunts aimed at getting governments and companies to take action on climate change. This then links on to the methods which affect the success of a pressure group. Those who do not have insider status rely on other methods such as direct action or civil disobedience. 

Their ability to use publicity through the media to forward their aims is vital.

Street protests and demonstrations by some Pressure Groups can be effective in making the public more aware of the issue that they are campaigning for. For example, in 2021 Black Lives Matter had many demonstrations across the UK in cities such as Glasgow, Bristol and London. The Glasgow street protests involved a huge demonstration in George Sq as well as Glasgow Green. They also changed the names of many of Glasgow’s street names as a protest at Glasgow’s involvement in the slave trade.

The street names got changed to George Floyd St and Rosa Parks St. This street protest attracted lots of media attention not just in the UK but also in other countries. This can be seen to be a success as it made many more people aware of the campaign issues and started a debate in the media about Glasgow’s role in the Slave trade. However, some of the other demonstrations turned violent with acts of vandalism and criminal damage. For example, the statue of Winston Churchill was vandalised in central London in a demonstration that saw 23 police officers injured and 29 people arrested.

Also, in Bristol, protestors pulled down the statue of former slave owner Edward Coulston and rolled it through the streets and into the river. These two examples got considerable media coverage but many members of the public thought it unacceptable that violence and vandalism occurred and it could be argued that this actually harmed the level of public support for BLM. 

Therefore, it can be said that some street protests can actually increase support for a cause whereas others, if they end up breaking the law can actually harm their cause and the aims of the Pressure Group. 

So, in evaluation, protests can be seen as being sometimes effective but could also be counter productive.

For more on UK politics click this link here

For more articles and reviews just like this one, click this link here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top