Explain the main differences between pressure groups and political parties (15)
Pressure groups usually focus on one issue, whilst political parties usually have a wide policy remit.
E.g. Liberty focus solely on civil liberties, whilst the Liberal Democrats focus on the environment, Europe etc. as well as civil liberties
Political parties seek election, whilst pressure groups do not participate
Political parties want to form the government.
Pressure groups put their message in ways other than at Parliament
E.g. The Animal Liberation Front attacked Huntingdon Life Sciences
Political parties have limits on their funding due to the Neill Report, pressure groups not.
E.g. Scottish Parliament election funding cap £1.5 million
Political parties accountable in law, pressure groups not.
To what extent do pressure groups strengthen the democratic process? (30)
1) Offer an alternative method for political participation. E.g. Rally for Anti-Poverty March [May 2005], writing in e-mail campaigns like the Plain English Campaign
2) Gives more political influence than just voting. E.g. CND in the 1980's, no party included this in their policies at the time.
3) Aiding/ Coercing political parties. E.g. Conservative divide over Europe post 1990 and the formation of the Referendum Movement under Goldsmith. Existence influences Con. To take more anti-EU stance.
4) Source of specialist knowledge. E.g. MENCAP and MIND, brings about awareness of groups in society. E.g. Age Concern.
5) Disperse power away from Government. E.g. 1970s TUC and Trade Unions had immense power; kept a democratic status quo, particularly in 1976 when they had discussions…