Video Lecture - Roles of Speakers - the Leader of Opposition

Transcript - Video Lecture on the Leader of Opposition

The second speech in an Asian Parliamentary Debate after the Prime Minister's speech, is the first speaker of the opposition team and that is the Leader of Opposition (LO). Now the Leader of Opposition's job in many ways is very similar to the Prime Minister's job. There are some crucial differences, so let's look at what he or she must do.

Now as LO you have essentially 4 responsibilities. Firstly you must respond to the definition and setup, second present your case and your position, thirdly rebut the arguments of the Prime Minister (PM) and lastly present your own arguments. 

Firstly, responding to the definition and the setup. Now in this part what you need to do is to address how you and the other team or the PM are approaching the problem (or approaching the debate, not every debate is about a problem). They've just told you how they define the debate, do you agree or disagree with the definition? Would you like to provide some additional clarity? Would you like to explain some ideas that you feel the PM has not explained well enough?

It's essential for you to find some common ground. So you can agree or disagree with some things, but you must agree with some other things. For example if we are using the same debate about banning smoking in the university campus and the PM contextualizes debate and says universities are dirty and filthy and people (are) smoking everywhere and that's the problem, you can approach that and say you agree people are smoking in the university but you don't agree that the problem is as huge as and as dire as he makes it out to be. You disagree on the context or the issue on which the prime minister set-up the debate. That's the first thing, responding to the definition and the setup. Remember, as much as you want to disagree with some things, you must find something to agree (on). Without any kind of common ground, the debate will not happen.[More in Question 1 below]

The second thing you do is you present your position and your team case. This part is almost identical to what the PM does. If you have a policy, you should present a (your) policy. You should explain how you are going to approach the debate and what your essential agreements or disagreements are. What are you going to prove and what you are NOT going to prove. It's okay to make some concessions, but you cannot concede the main principle of the debate.[More in Question 2 below]

Thirdly you have to rebut and this part is completely new. Every speaker in the Asian Parliamentary format should respond to the speaker before them. Now the PM has no speaker before him so obviously he can't have any rebuttals but as LO you must respond to the PM. So you must say why the PM's arguments or the policy or the position is wrong or ineffective or what are the problems with what he or she wants to argue. Those are your rebuttals. [More in Question 3 Below]

Finally like the PM you must also present constructive argumentation. You must say, now these are my arguments. In your position part where you are presenting the team case, you would have said what you are going to talk about and what your second speaker is going to talk about, so at this point you should deliver those arguments. Now doing rebuttals and arguments can be a lot of things to do, so the LO needs to be responsive and be able to change and adapt to what is happening in the debate. Sometimes if your argument is also a rebuttal because it serves to rebut the other (side's)argument, you can tell people that. You can say, "I'm going to rebut his arguments when I talk about my argument" (example below) and then later, when you talk about your argument, you can say "This argument defeats their argument on the other side". You can watch an example and see how these things work, and how the LO structures his or her speech. [More in Question 4 Below]

Basically it's quite similar to a PM speech - you need to respond to the definition and set-up, present your own position and case, how you are going to approach the debate and then you have rebuttals to engage the PM's arguments and finally provide your own arguments.