Leader of Opposition Constructive – Basics

By: Allison Douglis, Yale University 2015

The Leader of the Opposition’s Constructive

The Leader of the Opposition’s Constructive, or the LOC, is an eight-minute speech that immediately follows the Prime Minister’s Constructive (PMC). As the second speech of the round, and the first speech for the opposition, it ideally should provide a clear, thorough, and convincing set of reasons to oppose the government’s case.

Structuring the LOC

Most LOCs are divided into two parts: the “off-case” and the “on-case.” The off-case provides several “independent” reasons (usually two to four) to oppose the case – reasons why the case idea itself is wrong regardless of how Gov chooses to defend it. Conversely, when the LO directly refutes the arguments Gov presented in case, this is called the “on-case” part of the LOC.

Different debaters choose to allocate their time in the LOC differently, and sometimes it simply depends on the round. A good rule of thumb is that an LO should spend between three and five minutes presenting off-case arguments, then spend the remaining time delivering on-case refutation of Gov’s points.

Offense and Defense

An easier way to conceptualize this division is by envisioning the different parts of the LOC as “offense” and “defense.” In a sports match, a team needs strong offense (to score points that will win it the game) and strong defense (to stop the other team from scoring enough points to win). The two parts of the LOC function in much the same way. The off-case portion should be composed of strictly proactive reasons – offense — to oppose the case, while the on-case portion should be mostly defensive reasons why the arguments Gov has put forth are insufficient to win them the round.

Consider a case where Gov argues for direct US intervention in a foreign conflict, and offers the argument that because the US is seen as a major world power, it will play a deciding role in how that conflict is resolved and the post-conflict terms of resolution. A defensive response could be that US intervention is unlikely to succeed (perhaps because of specific social or military factors). An offensiveargument could be that because the US is seen as getting involved in foreign conflicts for purely self-interested motivations, this will promote backlash and undermine the legitimacy of the conflict resolution if it does occur. These arguments don’t contradict one another, but the latter gives a reason to actively oppose a case, while the former just gives a reason why Gov might not get the benefits they talk about.

Planning the LOC

The LOC can be difficult to prepare, since the LO has to simultaneously come up with arguments for the off-case, “flow” the government case, and plan responses to that case. Practice is the easiest way to develop these multitasking skills. But, especially before developing a large degree of familiarity with the LOC, it’s important to prioritize time to come up with off-case arguments. Remember, offense is necessary to win a round, whereas defense is only a good way to mitigate the other side’s chances of winning. If you are stumped during the PMC and need to take some extra time to think about particular arguments, it’s therefore best to devote that time to the off-case. Obviously this does not hold true for every individual round, but it is something to keep in mind.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions!

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