The Influence of Pressure Groups on the Government

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The Influence of Pressure Groups on the Government

This essay will outline the significance to which pressure groups have

an influence on government and explain how they have fared under New

Labour governments.

Whilst the term ‘pressure groups’ may be relatively new, the concept

itself dates back as far as 1787. The Society for Effecting the

Abolition of the Slave Trade was led by William Wilberforce and Thomas

Clarkson and successfully campaigned for the abolition of the slave

trade. (Jones, 2004, p233)

Pressure groups are formed by a group of people who share a common

interest or goal. The intention of the group is to raise the profile

or the cause and/or advance it. Unlike political parties, they rarely

have a manifesto on a range of policies. Instead they campaign only

on specific policies in order to influence public policy formulated by

the likes of central or local government. (Grant, 1995, p3)

There are generally two types of group: sectional and cause groups.

Sectional groups comprise of individuals who have similar interests

and gain personally from being part of such a group. It includes

entities such as professional bodies like the British Medical

Association, the CBI and trade unions. This type of group is driven

by the interests of its members. Cause groups are formed in order to

achieve a specific objective. It could potentially attract any

individual who believes in the principle and the group is driven by

the interests of the cause rather than the individual members.

(Jackson, 2004)

Pressure groups can be categorised further into insider and outsider

groups. This distinction is concerned wi...

... middle of paper ...

... to social

movements to ensure their voice is heard. Failure to listen to this

voice will have serious ramifications for New Labour.





Grant, W (1995) Pressure Groups, Politics and Democracy in Britain,

Harvester Wheatsheaf

Heywood (2002) Politics, Second Edition, Palgrave

House of Commons (1985), First Report from the Select Committee on

Members’ Interests, 1984/85, HMSO

Jones et al (2004) Politics UK, Fifth Edition, Pearson Longman

Smith, M (1995) Pressure Politics, Baseline



Jackson, N (2004) Pressure Group Politics, Politics Review, September


--------, 27 November 2005 27

November 2005

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