There are many Pressure Groups in the UK which campaign using a variety of methods to force the government to take a desired action. Both types of Pressure Groups (interest or promotional) intend to change the policies of the elected representatives of our country without using politics. It might be said that the actions of Pressure groups were a threat to democracy for many reasons however it could also be argued that they are in fact beneficial to the democratic system in the UK
Members of a pressure group hold the views of a minority. If they are successful they may force effects which are disproportionate to their issue. Not everyone in the country will hold the same views as these members of pressure groups and so it is unfair if they pressurise the government into an action that will not please the whole country. The government has been elected by the British voting public and are therefore put in charge of representing them and making fair decisions for the whole country. This whole system is undermined if one small group of people with a distinct view on one issue force the government into some action.
In a democracy everyone has the right to freedom of speech but some pressure groups go too far and break the law in order to make their protests. This is unfair as ordinary people may be affected by these protests although they do not personally agree with these people. Some may face violence or intimidation at picket lines which seems wrong as they should not be placed under such pressure by the protesters. This militancy of Pressure Groups is a threat to democracy as it is very unfair on those who do not share the protestors opinions yet are still caught up in the protests against their will.
Pressure groups may also go about their campaigns in a manner that is not moral. A good example of this would be the ‘cash for questions’ fiasco when MP Neil Hamilton was paid money so that he would bring up questions in parliament; he later lost his seat. This is unethical and unfair as the protests being made should have persuaded the MP to join their campaign without the lure of money. If policies start to be ‘bought’ by protestors then only those will large funds will be able to succeed in their aims. In a democratic country these actions should not take place and therefore Pressure Groups which bypass official channels to gain support are endangering the democracy of the UK.
Pressure groups also tend to oversimplify matters. They will campaign for one issue which they feel strongly about but will present it in a manner which they public will understand easily. The issue may be more complicated but some pressure groups will make it appear clearer than it is so as to get the public on their side. Once they have gained vital support for their campaign they can start to unravel the more complicated issues involved. They will be more successful than they would have been if they had presented the issue in full from the beginning. Their new support will take enough of an interest to try to understand the complications and there is a higher chance their support will remain. This oversimplification of issues can also be described as a threat to democracy as people should be given all the relevant information to make an informed decision on where their support lies.
However it could also be argued that Pressure Groups are not a threat to democracy and are in fact beneficial to our society. Pressure groups can be of use in widening awareness of certain issues to a wider audience. This can be certainly be seen positively as the issue may be something which people had previously had no knowledge or interest in but is still important to them although they had not realised it.
Another advantage of the existence of pressure groups in our society is the fact that anyone can join a pressure group. Voting is restricted (for example those under eighteen cannot vote) and so pressure groups are the only way for some people to be involved in politics. Despite not getting being eligible to vote, these people may have valuable or different views on some aspects of politics and pressure groups are the only way for them to get their say. Pressure groups can thus be argued to be democratic as they can involve all members of society not just those who are enfranchised.