Course of History

Outsider Pressure Groups

Outsider Pressure Groups


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Outsider pressure groups have none of the advantages of insider groups. They cannot expect to be consulted during the policy-making process, nor can they expect to gain access to ministers and civil servants. Rather, they have to work outside the governmental decision making process and, therefore, have fewer opportunities to determine the direction of policy.

In the 1980s, CND was excluded from any consultation process with the government because its aim was unacceptable to the Conservative government of the time. An extreme example of an outsider group is the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which seeks a united Ireland but has been considered an illegitimate organisation by the British government. It was considered anti-constitutional because its violent indirect method - terrorism - was unacceptable in a democratic country.

Outsider groups adopt different strategies and can be further subdivided in to two categories. The first are outsider groups aiming for insider status. They do this by waiting for a different political climate, such as a change in government. If such a change materialises, they might immediately gain insider status. Outsider groups hoping for a change in political climate often work closely with the opposition in Parliament and, generally, their strategy is to abide by the 'rules of the game'. Alternatively, groups seeking insider status may be new groups with little experience, resources and expertise. Decision makers might support their aims but do not consult them because they are thought to have little to offer. In addition there is a category of outsider groups that do not aim for insider status because they are ideologically opposed to the political system. By definition, such groups have no interest in gaining access to governmental decision makers.

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