British Parliamentary Debate features 4 teams all competing against each other under 1 motion. A motion is released, depending on the country, 15-30 minutes before the debate. The motion for the demonstration debate last night was “This house would ban political parties defined by religious ideology.”
Although seemingly confusing at first, the 4 team format is actually quite systematic and accessible. The four teams are called Opening Government, Closing Government, Opening Opposition and Closing Opposition. Each team consists of 2 people and each speaker gives a 7 minute constructive speech with Points of Information permissible in all 8 speeches.
The Opening Government defines the scope of the motion, defines terms and proposes a case in support of the motion. Generally, but not always, BP motions are quite open, meaning that the Opening Government has the responsibility to set up a good debate for all.
The Opening Opposition usually agrees with the way that the Opening Government has set up the debate and proposes its own case in opposition to the Government stance. The first 2 teams in a BP debate are generally referred to as the “opening house.”
The Closing Government team should both support the Opening Government team and also put forth a “case extension.” The extension should be unique material that defends the motion and the Opening Government case. For example, if the Opening Government takes a practical or policy viewpoint on the motion, the Closing Government may look at different policy implications or take a theoretical stance or defend the motion in any other way they see it. The second speaker from this team should summarize the debate, particularly from the Closing Government perspective.
The Closing Opposition should, much like its government counterpart, should provide unique material in the form of an extension while also remaining consistent with the Opening Government team’s logic. The last speaker should summarize the round from a Closing Opposition perspective.IDEA will be sponsoring several BP events this upcoming academic year in the US, Korea and Botswana. Keep checking the IDEA website at www.idebate.org to learn more.