British parliamentary debate – roles of the speakers

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1. Government:

– defines the motion whichever way they like, do not complain about it!


– unreasonable definitions and bad debates which come from them go

  against them


– expectable cases are rewarded


THB that coke is it (you could debate 1. American culture and US policy, 2. Globalization and the spread of popular culture, 3. Cocaine, …)


THW send the boats back (you could debate 1. Immigration, 2. Fishing rights, …)


THB representative government has failed (you could debate: 1. The European Parliament (EP), 2. The house of commons, 3. US Congress, …)

THW get tough on crime (you could debate: 1. Mandatory prison sentences, 2. The 3 strike rule, 3. The death penalty, …)


Roles of each team/speaker:

First Table:

1.      Government:

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         Defines the topic and provides a debatable case, not a truism,

         Should predict the oppositions arguments,

         Should cover as much controversy as possible,

         Should have the best possible arguments you can come up with.

Prime minister:

         Defines the motion,

         States the case division/split between the speakers,

         Produces his positive matter (2 to 3 arguments)
→1 sentence to state your position

→explain it further

→2 major forms of support (examples, philosophical points, quotes, …)

→develop your arguments

→summarize this

         A powerful rhetorical conclusion

→so because we need to confront this challenge … we are proud to propose …

Deputy prime minister:

         Rhetorical introduction,

         Preview your speech,

         Answer the oppositions criticism,

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         Point out what part of their case they didn’t deal with,

         Don’t be polite to the oppositions arguments,

         Continue with your part of the constructive case

         spend a half of your time on your constructive matter


1.      Opposition:

         Responds to the governments case,

         Creates its own positive matter,

         Covers as many of the opposing arguments as possible.

Leader of opposition:

         A powerful introduction

         Mention that you accept the governments definition, if you do,

         Preview your case,

         Rebut the government’s case,

         You need to be specific and organized,

         Spend no more than half of your speech on the governments arguments,

         Develop at least two of your arguments,

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         Do not use defensive arguments (such as: not everyone will cooperate), but offensive ones (it is dangerous and harmful),


Deputy leader of opposition:

         Answer the governments defense (defend your attack),

         Spend more time on their new argument (rebut it),

         Sustain your speakers arguments,

         Present your new constructive matter.

Second Table:

         Plan but be flexible,

         Prepare for as many contingencies as possible,

         The government and the opposition both need an extension.


         Produce a new positive case,

         Is consistent with the first table, but provides a different perspective,

         It cannot contradict the first table (do not backstab),

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