Presentation on theme: "Pressure Group Success. How do we judge success? Pressure groups usually have clearly stated goals Success can be measured against such goals But some."— Presentation transcript:
How do we judge success? Pressure groups usually have clearly stated goals Success can be measured against such goals But some pressure group aims are long-term, and thus unrealisable in short-term (eg Greenpeace), while others have more easily achievable short-term aims (the Gurkha campaign) An objective measure of group success might be based on levels of profile achieved, or the impact of education campaigns aimed at gradually changing perceptions (Friends of the Earth on climate change)
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Practical Achievability Groups with time-limited and practically achievable aims are likely to have more success than those with long-term, more amorphous goals Make Poverty History, for example, has an open- ended, expensive and global set of aims unlikely to be achieved in the short-term Part of their measured success might be the levels of changed consciousness, or gradualist changes in legislation The Gurkha Justice Campaign, on the other hand, had an achievable short-term aim
Gurkha Justice Campaign Aim: to gain the right to live in the UK for all Gurkhas who served in the British army prior to 1997 Numbers affected: between 10,000 and 15,000 former Gurkhas Financial impact: between £660 and £700 per new resident Result: Parties in Parliament agreed to pass legislation securing the right to residency for afore- mentioned Gurkhas
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Receptivity/Public Opinion Groups ‘pushing at an open door’ will generally fare better than those ‘swimming against the tide’ Celebrity endorsement also helps to warm the public to an idea Jamie Oliver’s ‘Feed Me Better’ campaign aimed to improve quality of school dinners Celebrity endorsement and public support led to specific changes being made regarding school dinners On the other hand, the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) has less favourable public support
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Changing political circumstances Friends of the Earth campaigned for use of greater renewable energy in the early 1970s and struggled to make headway in their campaign Advances in technology and changing attitudes made their case more compelling by the 21 st century Campaigners for gay rights failed to stop the Thatcher government’s Section 28 act They only started to make headway when Tony Blair’s government was in power, which accompanied a broader change in attitudes This was further helped by media and cultural attitudes
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Human Resources Groups with large memberships often have greater apparent legitimacy (RSPB is active in and consulted about conservation issues) Unions have traditionally benefited from large memberships Large memberships also bring greater funding via subscriptions Professional groups (BMA) benefit from the perceived expertise of their members – although BMA failed to stop NHS changes, and the Bar Association failed to stop legal aid changes Other groups may benefit from specific skill sets offered by members – fund-raising, marketing, legal expertise
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Middle-class groups (argues Wyn Grant) have greater success due to their articulate and well- educated memberships
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Material Resources Money is the obvious asset – even small groups with generous funds (Taxpayer’s Alliance) can make a significant impact Other assets can help – office space, web servers
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Group Status Insider groups benefit from regular consultation and access to government ministers They may be involved in drafting legislation Groups with financial, business or political leverage have a greater advantage – eg CBI Groups with specialisms often gain insider status (Howard League, Liberty)
Factors Affecting Pressure Group Success Group Methods Groups employing a variety of methods can have greater success – such as lobbying ministers, using social media and the internet to generate support (38 Degrees), letter writing campaigns (Amnesty) More extreme methods can alienate support – the Animal Liberation Front is rejected even by many animal rights supporters as being too militant Mass marches can generate media attention, but not always change government minds (Countryside Alliance failed to stop ban on fox-hunting; their more effective work was done through utilising supporters in the Lords to water down the bill)
Conclusion Insider groups can be said to have a greater chance of success than outsider groups Material resources, notably funding, is normally hugely beneficial A high media profile does not always guarantee success Groups with easier aims will have greater success than longer-term, more complex groups The climate of public opinion is often crucial There is no set formula for success!
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