Tag Archives: organizations

What role do pressure groups play in the British political system?

In the last years the role of pressure groups in the political process have been broadly discussed as the groups roles today seems to be unclear and the level of influence is difficult to measure. This essay will discuss. What role do pressure groups play in the British political system? Why are some groups more influential than others?

As a common definition: pressure groups are voluntary organisations formed to advance or defend a common cause or interest. Therefore they are unlike political parties in that they do not wish to assume responsibility for governing the country; rather they seek to influence those who do so. [1]To some extend, pressure groups do not aspire to govern the country and are concerned with a relatively narrow range of problems; is has been argued that much of their work is non-political but as much as their concerns and aspirations are affected by government they seek to have an influence over the conduct of public policy. Another view is “Pressure groups seek to influence rather than power, yet pluralist argue that power is effectively dispersed through the widespread influence of countless groups on government and policy making”. [2] Additionally, groups seek to defend and advance their own interest or cause, and government policy or specific decisions may affect them adversely or beneficially. Therefore they have a strong motive to seek to influence government, especially as power in the British political system is concentrated with the core executive. However, the universe of pressure groups now requires more systematic subdivisions. The problem at once encountered is that the traditional ways of doing it hardly seem adequate. The oldest classification in the technical literature is the one introduced in 1935 by Harwood Childs of Princeton University[3], who distinguished between those groups “whose community of interests is based on such fundamental differentials as age, sex, occupation and race, from those existing merely to further special ideas or groups of ideas. Furthermore, because their concerns are liable to be affected by government decisions, they need to be organised in order to influence ministers and respond to what they propose. “In Britain the tendency is to use the term ‘pressure groups’ and then to sub-divide them into different categories. The world ‘pressure’ has an unfortunate connotation and many groups operate without resorting to any degree of coercion”.[4] In both case and its simplest; pressure groups are not counting political parties that influence or attempt to influence the public authorities, mainly the central government and they traditionally operated at four main levels, seeking to influence the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the public at large. In Britain and Europe, they tend to be more closely associated with government.

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“The era of two-party politics in the UK is over.” Do you agree? If you do, what is replacing it: multi-party politics or no-party politics?

In recent years the debate about party politics in the UK have been broadly discussed for several reasons, some argued that two-party politics in the UK is over and now it have been replaced by multi-party politics; in the other hand some argued that two party politics is not over and it may remain for the next years to come. This essay will discuss “The era of two-party politics in the UK is over.” Do you agree? If you do, what is replacing it: multi-party politics or no-party politics?

Political parties are now complex multilevel organizations, united by a common identity and, sometimes, shared objectives. ‘A party is not a community but a collection of communities, a union of small groups dispersed throughout the country and linked by co-ordinating institutions’ as Duverger described.[1] Now, the question for the twenty-first century is whether we are witnessing a crisis of parties or merely a change in their structure.

 Party politics in Britain date from the nineteenth century, and by 1900 systems of organization and electoral competition were well established. A dual system of Conservatives and Liberals was modified in the early twentieth century by the rise of the Labour party and a three-party system existed until about 1931 when the eclipse of the Liberals ushered in a new two-party system.[2] In addition, after 1945 the two parties, Conservative and Labour, totally dominated until the 1970s when the Liberals revived and, in Scotland and Wales, nationalist parties enjoyed a short-lived boom. By the 1980’s two-party politics appeared spent as the Liberals allied to a new party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and gained 25.9 per cent of the Great Britain vote in the 1983 election, only just behind Labour. [3] So is revealed by history and facts that even when two-party politics remains and they still are a pillar in UK politics they suffer “up and downs” and that basis makes many scholars to believe that the political system is changing into multi-party system. However it does not mean a loss of power by the main parties that rule Britain. Today most of British history over the last 200 years  has appeared to be a two-party duopoly Whigs and Tories, then Liberals and Conservatives and more recently Labour and Conservatives. But still a two-party system that appears to sustain. And as a matter of fact most of the seats in the House of Commons (and sometimes nearly all of them) have belonged to the two major parties since 1945. It could be argued, however, that “Britain’s two-party system was in part a product of an electoral system which severely penalizes third parties, particularly those (like the Liberal Democrats) whose support is not concentrated in particular areas”. [4]

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British and US ‘special relationship’ (foreign policy)

 How far does Britain’s special relationship with the US constrain its foreign policy?

The ‘special relationship’ is a phrase used to describe close political, diplomatic, cultural and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. The term was first used in 1946 in a speech made by Winston Churchill. In recent decades, it has been argued that the’ special relationship’ is about control and how to keep both interests aligned. Today, is to believe that to a very large extent Britain special relationship with the United States constrained its foreign policy. This essay will discuss: How far does Britain’s special relationship with the US constrain its foreign policy?

As a concept foreign policy aims to ensure the security of its people and territory, promotes its aims in the international arena, and encourage co-operation with other countries. The special relationship between Britain and United States is close and robust because British and American values are essentially the same, which explains why national interests are often aligned. ‘The US-UK relationship is strong because it delivers for both of us. The alliance is not sustained by our historical ties or blind loyalty. This is a partnership of choice that serves our national interests.’[1] Still, in many aspects for both parties foreign policy is dependant one on each other. At the moment, it is evident that there is a distinctive relationship between Britain and the United States, but it exists at the top and bottom with very little in between. At the top, the common language and a degree of shared relationship and culture between leaders has clearly provided Britain with some extra diplomatic leverage with US policy-makers. At the bottom, there is a degree of detailed co-operation and understanding between the armed services of the two countries and their intelligence organizations. However, Britain and the US perhaps understood one another much less well than they assumed, despite the link of a common language. Britain was a ‘little island’, the US a subcontinent; Britain believed in the committed to the welfare state and massive state intervention in the economy; the US, at least in theory, remained committed to private enterprise. ‘Anti-Americanism in Britain was matched by certain anti-British sentiments in the US, especially among the Irish.’[2]

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