Mob Rule? Two Case Studies of How Single-issue Organisations Became the Ruling Party on Council

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Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

The article explores how, given the right set of circumstances, single-issue organisations can make the transition from being pressure groups seeking to influence specific policy from outside the local representative chamber, to organised elected representatives who are able to shape and, in some cases, lead policy from within. Here, an account is provided of two particular single-issue groups, Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC) and the Boston Bypass Independents (BBI). These organisations challenged council using the ballot box to gain legitimacy for their concerns when they felt all other channels of influence had failed. In both instances, the mainstream response to the electoral 'threat' posed, and the political tactics deployed before, during and after ICHC and the BBI's election to office, provide important insights into how local representative and participatory processes can filter through and effect quite significant change in-seemingly-established and institutionalised local party systems. Drawing attention to the contributions ICHC and the BBI made to the health of local democracy in Wyre Forest and Boston, this article concludes by highlighting the inherent difficulties faced by organisations which seek longevity, yet rely on the mobilisation potential of the 'single issue'.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-241
Number of pages23
JournalLocal Government Studies
Volume37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • non-mainstream politics, local democracy, Single-issue groups, engagement