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Pressure group success - the CBI

Mike McCartney

28th April 2023

The ongoing turmoil at the key business group is a good case study in PG success

After former leader Tony Danker was sacked as the boss of the Confederation of British Industry, things are now seen as so bad that current boss, Rain Newton-Smith, is looking to rename the body. This is according to a report in today's Guardian.

A quick recap on PG success, by the way...

How do some pressure groups achieve success?

  • It is worth defining ‘success’. This would mean the prevention of unfriendly legislation, the passage of friendly legislation, amendments to legislation, or raising public and political awareness of an issue. In the case of the train staff, it is improving pay and conditions - i.e. a salary increase that mitigates the effects of inflation and/or limiting layoffs by the train companies.
  • Achieving insider status (see above for methods) can promote success. Farming and environment groups in the UK are good examples.
  • A factor in success is finance. Wealthy groups, such as those representing industries or the professions such as the British Medical Association can afford to mount major campaigns, undertake research and access the media to campaign.
  • Good organisation can promote success. Organising major demonstrations is impressive and can influence both public and political opinion. Thus the Countryside Alliance put rural affairs on the political map in 2003 by putting 300,000 demonstrators on the streets of London. The use of the Internet and mobile phones mean pgs can organise demonstrations quickly and effectively – as the anti-fuel tax lobby has discovered.
  • Good use of the media is a useful tool. Joanna Lumley and the Ghurkha Justice Campaign is an oft quoted example.
  • Related to a nu prof these points is god leadership.
  • Sometimes a group may be ideologically in tune with the party in government. Thus rights groups such as Liberty will prosper when the government has a liberal flavour - relatively more successful when New Labour was in power than after.

So if we look at point four, underneath he penumbra of "organisation" we can also consider the importance of good leadership. A successful PG leader should be able to exploit the reputation of an established group and successfully lobby through political channels in Whitehall within the central executive territory. Clearly, the CBI's reputation is in tatters, with many businesses terminating their association (see video below), and surely, therefore, its political clout has been severely diminished?

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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