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The Clapham Common vigil and pressure group activity

Mike McCartney

15th March 2021

Where do recent events fit in with the A Level Politics syllabus?

It is something of a shame that we don't explore issues within the context of the British Politics course. The treatment of prisoners, whether the education system is fit for purpose, racism in the police force, as some examples, would, I'm sure, spark heated debate in classrooms across the country.

Social equality, and in particular gender equality would also give rise to some interesting discussion, I reckon.

As it happens I went to a very well put together and thought provoking exhibition on this very topic last summer. Held at the British Library, it was entitled, "Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights." I've just had a quick look at the British Library website and you can, in fact, view the exhibition online.

See here:

I also picked up a fantastic book accompanying the exhibition. It goes into a lot more detail than the exhibition itself and is well worth a read. At £25 you might balk at the price, but maybe you could recommend it to your school/college library or local library?

We could in terms of the syllabus look at what happened in Clapham from the perspective of the right of assembly, and i might return to that.

First, let's consider the issue from the perspective of pressure groups.

The two groups that co-ordinated the act of remembrance, as far as I can work out, are Reclaim These Streets and

See their respective online sites here:

Petition · Make Public Sexual Harassment a Criminal Offence in the UK ·

Once having done so, think about the following:

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, and simply raising public and political awareness of an issue.
  • Achieving insider status can promote success.
  • A factor in success is finance. Wealthy groups, such as those representing industries or the professions, as well as large trade unions, 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. The use of the Internet and mobile phones mean pgs can organise demonstrations quickly and effectively.
  • Good use of the media is a useful tool.
  • The involvement of celebrities can bring success.
  • Sometimes a group may be ideologically in tune with the party in government.

Now, how would you put the activities of the two groups, and recent events in the above context?

Mike McCartney

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

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