Pressure groups are groups of like minded individuals who come together on the basis of shared interests or a commonly held cause in order to put pressure on policy makers at Westminster and beyond. Pressure groups are significantly more numerous than political parties because whereas the parties tend to aggregate and accommodate a wide range of views in an effort to see their candidate elected to public off, pressure groups have a tendency to fragment opinion.Recent years have seen the emergence of looser social movements and more focused single-issue groups, replacing larger, more traditional groups as a fundamental change in the nature of political participation in the UK – as the emergence of a so-called new pressure group politics. Cause groups also referred as promotional groups or pubic interest groups, cause groups seek to promote approaches, issues or ideas that are not of direct benefit to group members.Cause groups tend to be ‘inclusive’, in that they generally look to establish a wide membership base and do not put in place as many barriers to entry. One cause which may mean pressure groups have to use different methods in their attempt to influence government is the classification by group status.
The resulting insider-outsider typology largely sees group success as a function of the extent to which any given group is able to develop secure, positive relationships with politicians and officials.Insider groups enjoy closer and more positive relationships with those in government are insider groups. Those that have particularly strong two-way relationships with policy-makers across a broad range of issues are described as core insiders. Those granted such status within a more narrow, area of expertise are known as specialist insiders.
Third group peripheral insiders are those who have access to, but are only rarely needed by, the government due to the narrow nature of their interest or cause.