Basics of British Parliamentary Debate

This sheet is just a basic explanation of BP debating; complementary strategical seminars are essential. In learning BP, debaters should think about specific strategies for each team, and organizational techniques (especially for summary speakers).

Teams and speakers in a BP Debate

First Proposition:

First Speaker – 7 minutes

Second Speaker – 7 minutes

First Opposition:

First Speaker –  7 minutes

Second Speaker – 7 minutes

Second Proposition:

First Speaker – 7 minutes

Summary/Whip Speaker –  7 minutes

Second Opposition:

First Speaker – 7 minutes

Summary/Whip Speaker –  7 minutes

In adjudication, teams are ranked from 1 to 4 (1 is best).

Key Differences between BP and CP:

  • Twice as many teams
  • More emphasis on knowledge (no spec knowledge rules). You need to have information and relevant examples to deepen or extend the debate.
  • More constructive and analysis burden for second speakers. There should be an equal balance between speakers in the first half.
  • A longer debate means you have to work harder to keep your arguments alive and relevant throughout the debate. You need to put more work in to differentiate your team.

Team Responsibilities and Strategies

First Prop:

Defines the resolution, lay out a prop focus. Present a model from which Prop will approach the debate, setting the framework from which Opp can work.

The second speaker: continue constructive material, refute First Opp.

Difference from CP: the case should be broader, in order to make it more difficult for 2nd Prop to expand.  You want to cover as much ground as possible, as long as you can properly deal with each of your arguments. Arguments are larger, less specific in title.

First Opp:

Lays out the opp focus, clashes with First Prop’s model and constructive.

Difference from CP: Opp needs to have more construction than normal, with an equal burden between speakers. Opp is expected to bring up substantial constructive, with relevant examples and deeper arguments. The main strategy is to take 1st Prop out of the round, while building an Opp case that will be tough for 2nd prop to refute and 2nd Opp to beat.

Second Prop:

Extend the debate; move the prop case in a different direction with an explicit extension. Stand firmly on a specified ground. You can make the case narrower or broader, expand to a different region, approach with a different philosophy, anything that is a new element to the debate.

Make sure it is obvious what your extension is. Prove that it has bettered the debate.

Do not forget to refute the last speaker on First Opp.

Main strategy: move the debate forward, but make sure to support First Prop; do not knife! It helps to give a picture of where the debate has been so far, and take First Opp out of the round, to try to focus on the debate on the second half and then steal it.

Second Opp:

Analyze the Second Prop’s extension and refute it. Question the validity of their extension, and try to minimize its impact. Clash with Second Prop!

Expand the debate for Opposition by adding new substantive matter. You do not need a formal extension, but you must add Opposition arguments that are differentiated.

Main strategy: Do a better job that First Opp of clashing with the case, and take Second Prop out of the round. If Second Prop did a poor job, spend more time clarifying how your arguments defeat First Prop.

Summary Speeches: the last two speeches of the round.

Purpose: to summarize the round (not just a rebuttal) in terms of what it boils down to, and to show how your bench- and more specifically, your team- took the round. This speech should cover what was brought up from start to finish, but focus on the heaviest issues. A good way to look at it is as a biased news report.

Structure: can be any way of summarizing- by team, by speaker, or by theme. The thematic approach is just like a classic CP rebuttal, and is most common. NOTE: this is not just a rebuttal speech. You need to deal with the matter by explaining what each team said to the issues, and how your team dealt with them best. Like a biased journalist recapping the round.

Strategy: Show the weaknesses of the other benches, support the other team on your bench, but emphasize what your extension speaker brought up and how your refutations and POIs best addressed the issues of contention. Summarize the round in terms of your team’s stance.

Points of Information

These are mandatory in BP! You need to use POIs to get into the round early, stay relevant throughout the round, claim ground, remind the judges of your stance, defeat your opposition’s arguments, and be noticed in a round of 8 debaters.

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