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To What Extent Are the Biggest Pressure Groups the Most Successful 25 Marks

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to what extent are the biggest pressure groups the most successful

Success in pressure groups is defined by how they affect government policy, their agenda-setting power and how well they can change people’s ideologies. There are many other factors that contribute to the success of a pressure group i.e.: the finances that have been gained, the widespread support of the pressure group, the cause of the group itself and the organisation of the group. But it is important that all of the aforementioned factors work collaboratively to produce a successful pressure group. the biggest pressure groups the most successful to some extent as I believe that size alone does not necessarily mean that the pressure group with the most members will ultimately be the most successful

Some argue that the more members a pressure group has the more successful it is, because it can then be functionally representative of the public. The TUC has 7 million members supporting it's “cause” making very successful as the government can see that this group is representing a large public opinion. If a group such as the TUC were to support a political party for example, the party would notice a considerable difference in support with the TUC's backing than without. Pressure groups that have more members, leads to more donations, proving that size is necessary in order for pressure groups to be the most successful. Chequebook groups tend to get most of their finance from their members, for example Greenpeace and RSPB get 90% of their income from their members. This means that large groups tend to be wealthy, in turn the fiscal aid earned by the group can then be used to pay for media campaigns, lobbyists, staff etc… thus promoting the group and encouraging more people to join or donate.

However, it can be argued that the wealthiest pressure groups have the most success because they have a special relationship with the government as they are insider groups, which means that they will be consulted with by the government on several occasions. So, if pressure groups were to donate large sums of money to major political parties, it would provide a greater advantage as it allows them to have closer relationship with the government. Other Pressure Groups are mostly ignored even if they have accumulated a huge support base. A well-known occurrence of this was during 2003 when the government ignored the UK's biggest public demonstration with at least 750,000 taking part, in regards to their extreme opposition against the war that took place Iraq.

On the other hand some pressure groups may get attention from the government towards their cause, due to the fact that the government’s views are very important. As a group maybe large in size, support and wealth, however if the government doesn’t sympathise with their aims, then it would be very difficult for them to influence policy. For example, Greenpeace are very large and wealthy pressure group but are rarely ever heard by the government. which is not beneficial for the government as the public would be more motivated on a larger scale if the cause had positive social impacts for example: environment, animal and child welfare based pressure groups would receive more attention from the public ergo the government as compared to a pressure group with the aims to legalise cannabis or focus on allowing prisoners to vote. Additionally the power achieved by a large and well organised pressure group, means that the government would most likely discuss and take action, it may not ‘u-turn’ on its decision but it may change some aspects of its policy. The Labour and Coalition governments have modified policies as a result of large protest. For example A public inquiry for the M74 motorway ran from December 2003 until March 2004 and the report, not published until March 2005 recommended against the building of the road, saying that it would "be very likely to have very serious undesirable results”. After constant protests, and discussion it was dropped by the Scottish executive of the time. However in 2011 the new Scottish executive started plans for the construction of the M74 Motorway

Furthermore, there is clear evidence to prove that size alone is not the only factor in the success of pressure groups. As governments have ignored massive protests in the past for example the anti cuts protest in 2011 was organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it was a protest against planned public spending cuts by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government that formed in May 2010. Although the protest had between 250,000 and 500,000 people marching, the government did not back down from its original viewpoint. With Michael Gove stating that "we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance”. This protest received great attention from the media however it did not change the final outcome of the decision that needed to be made by parliament.
Additionally, it could be argued that it is the substance rather than size that can make a group more valuable. An example of this is the BMA which has 151,000 members. even though, this is less than the 3.7 million members of the National Trust, but the BMA has a huge amount of government support as it has all medical staff (doctors, nurses) in the UK as members. This means that its worth (according to the government) is deciding its large support from the government, not its size. Moreover, celebrity endorsements have a huge impact on the success of a pressure group. This is shown in effective methods carried out by the ‘Feed Me better’ pressure group, primarily led by Jamie Oliver, succeeded because it achieved its goal to provide healthier school meals in such a short amount of time due to its mass media coverage and insider status despite the fact that the group had a small number of active and official members.

In conclusion, there are many advantages to having a large pressure group in terms of size, such as financial benefits and large numbers to gain enough attention and action from the government. However, it is also not always crucial to have a large number of supporters as shown by the BMA as other factors such as organisation and celebrity endorsements can also lead to success.

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