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Beijing BP Training

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Revision as of 08:08, 11 October 2007

On November 3 and 4, 2007, IDEA will conduct a British Parliamentary (BP) Training in Beijing. This WIKI page serves as a collaborative training manual and agenda for that training and should be edited by trainers.

Training Areas

Debating constructively

  • Attack ideas, not person
  • Argue in manner - respect
  • Point of debating - discussing content not critiques and jargon
  • "Arguing Constructively" by Dominic Infante
  • Overview and structure of a British Parliamentary Debate
  • Flow of debate
  • Relationship (similarities/differences) to other formats and discussion forms - focus of the BP debate on *Policy interpretation rather than value
  • Rules and roles in British Parliamentary Debate: First Proposition and First Opposition
  • Roles of the teams
  • Roles of the speakers

Rules and roles in British Parliamentary Debate: Second Proposition and Second Opposition

  • Extension
  • Closing speeches (whips)

Constructing a case for a proposition


  • More detailed discussion will take place in the "Definitions" session, but a few general points:
    • Always define key words - If words like "justified" or "increase" or "establish" are in the resolution, you would only be harming your own team to not define them. It allows the opposition to tell the judge that s/he does not know what s/he is getting by voting for the proposition since they have left their advocacy vague.
    • Equally, it is not necessary to define non-key words - Defining "the" or other such words is just tedious.
    • Make the definitions fair - Trying to be sneaky really only makes teams look insecure.


  • I think it is worthwhile taking 1 or 2 sentences to explain how your plan or advocacy upholds the resolution - especially on metaphorical topics.
  • Make a clear plan/advocacy - you are not expected to know every detail and funding mechanism and oversight mechanism, ect. However, your plan should feature enough detail to be reasonably debated. These generally (but not necessarily) include:
    • An actor - who will carry the plan out?
    • An action - what will they do?
    • A timespan - how long will it take?
  • Show why your plan/advocacy is worthy of endorsement. This is usually done through advantages or warrants. Some questions to ask yourself when thinking of advantages are:
    • What pressing problem will it solve or mitigate?
    • What tangible benefits will it bring?
    • What positive values does it uphold?
    • What symbolic effect will it have?

Example Prop Case - This House Would Shine the Spotlight on Burma/Myanmar.

  • Definitions:
    • "Shine the spotlight" = to keep up pressure through the media, international organizations, local solidarity activities, ect.
    • "Burma/Myanmar" = the human rights situation stemming from the recent crackdown on monks and activists.
  • Advocacy:
    • This side of the house believes that the best way to achieve change vis a vis the brutal government in Burma/Myanmar is through consistent and vigilant international pressure; i.e. a spotlight. We will show you through our arguments various ways this can be done and their effectiveness. Any one of these methods is valuable and thus if we can show that "this house" should endorse any or all of them, then we have done our job as the proposition.
  • Arguments
  1. The West should continue to press for condemnation at the UN
    • This does a few things: 1) keeps pressure on Asian (India, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, ect.) countries dealing with the regime, which is important since these countries have more diplomatic leverage in the region than the United States; 2) keeps the issue in the international news; and 3) may lead to a Security Council or Council on Human Rights resolution with some teeth. Even, however, if the third scenario does not play out, we still believe that the first two effects are enough for us to shine the spotlight on Burma/Myanmar at the UN.
  2. The media should continue to report on the subject
    • Often with international crises like these, the media shows fleeting interest for a week or so and then moves on to the next story. In this situation it is crucial for the media to continue to search for facts about the September crackdown since the junta is so keen on hiding those facts. Media reports keep the issue on the forefront of people's minds, which in democratic countries translates to keeping the issues on voters' minds. Voters ultimately elect leaders, meaning that widespread media coverage contributes to action. Witness the media vigilance in reporting on Darfur and how the West is at least paying attention and trying to do something about the crisis. Contrast this with civil wars in the Congo or any other crises that are not reported in the media and are thus not acted upon by rich countries.
  3. Citizen groups should continue to organize protests, vigils, and other public events
    • This accomplishes a few goals: first, like argument 2, it keeps the issue timely and gives the media something to report on; second, it establishes solidarity with those in Burma. Radio Free Asia and other media outlets are available in Burma/Myanmar, meaning that a great many activists find their way around the junta censorship to get their news from the outside. Seeing that the outside world is still in solidarity with them even as the months wear on is an important psychological boost.

An Opposition strategy for this resolution will follow in the next section...

Constructing argument against a proposition

  • General opp. strategies

Points of information

Technicalities - protected time, presentation (how to offer and accept decline), timing


Argument patterns (reasoning)

  • Types of arguments - best utilized in BP

Structure of the speech


Standard tips on delivery Importance of style within BP Communication between judge and debater


Judging a debate

  • Rules /Guidelines of BP - Overview

Before the round: prep time, Consultation with coaches, printed, electronic material

  • Definitions/Interpretation of motions

Preparation - Research

  • Samples of motions
  • Interpretation
  • Model arguments/speech

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