The term ‘pressure group’ is a fairly recent one, but organised groups have long

The term ‘pressure group’ is a fairly recent one, but organised groups have long tried to influence government since well before the advent of modern democracy. This can be seen as a positive feature of their activities. For example, under William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in 1787 and succeeded in abolishing the slave trade in 1807. As a second example: in 1839, the Anti-Corn Law League was established, and this was also a success, providing us with a very good example of how it is possible for a pressure group to influence government by mobilising public opinion. In 1846, the then PM Sir Robert Peel was convinced to the cause, thus proving that it is not always the case that the interests of the rich and powerful triumph over those of the weak and poor.

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