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#LSESUElects: Elections

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  • Sat 18 Apr 2015 12:00

    Are you feeling down and out as one of the international students who aren’t eligible to vote in the upcoming UK General Election on May 7th? Not to worry, as there are loads of ways you can make your voice heard and have an impact. Living here for any amount of time as a student, whether it’s one or five years, means that you have a keen perspective on the issues facing our generation in this country. Don’t dismiss politics simply because you can’t vote!

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    Not only are these opportunities to exercise your democratic right, but they are also excellent opportunities to become more involved in your community and meet some really great people! With less than a month to go, consider giving up a little bit of your time to get political.


    1. Learn about the parties and take a stance

    Is your mind buzzing with all this political jargon that you read about and see on TV? Trying to decipher the ins and outs of British politics as an outsider can seem a little daunting at first, but it’s worth it to set aside some time to sort it all out. This policy guide from BBC is seriously fantastic as you can make your decision based on both the issues and parties. A little bit of research will help you can a stance and decide which party to get involved with.


    2. Get involved with a student club

    My time at LSE would seriously be incomplete if it wasn’t for my time spent with political societies. It gives you a great chance to make new friends, learn more about politics, and attend engaging events. You can find every political party represented by a student society here within the LSESU. Also, if you want to stay away from the party lines, you can check out LSESU Politics and Forum Society as well as events from LSESU during Election Week.


    3. Contact your local council and volunteer on campaigns

    Local councils are very welcoming to student volunteers, and they truly recognise how important your voice is in this election. Use this website to find your local council by popping in your postcode. Then, you can search for your chosen political party in that council. It’s as easy as that! I recommend starting out with something less demanding like phone banking and then working your way up to getting out on the doorstep.


    4. Volunteer in key seats

    Looking to mix things up from your local council and want to volunteer somewhere you could have an even bigger impact? Try a key seat constituency then! Both Bermondsey and Old Southwark and Holborn and St Pancras are important to LSE students as many of our halls are in these areas. On top of that, there are very small margins between the candidates in these constituencies, so your party might really need your help!


    5. Get social media savvy

    Undoubtedly, the best way for our generation to share information and express ourselves is on social media. So take to your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc, and make that a political outlet. Connect with candidates, share articles, and voice your opinion.


    6. Encourage others to vote

    Even though you cannot vote, you can advocate for your friends and colleagues to do so. Remind them that the deadline to register to vote is April 20th and that they can do that online here. Also, remind fellow international students from Ireland and Commonwealth countries that they indeed can vote!

     Enjoy the month of being super political!


    See also:

    The General Election and the Student Vote

  • Fri 17 Apr 2015 20:29

    The British General Election is less than a month away, and it seems like the only thing the media cares about is who is going to be in Number 10. But there are so many more important angles to this pivotal event, with the most crucial one being right in your hands: your vote.

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    We’ve all heard it too many times…”My vote doesn’t make a difference” or “I don’t care about the elections.” Now look at these numbers and tell me if you really feel like your vote doesn’t matter. Here are the results of the 2010 General Election:

    - 10.7m voted Conservative
    - 8.6m voted Labour
    - 6.8m voted LibDems
    - 15.9m people didn’t vote

    Can you imagine how different the past five years could have been if even half of the non-voters had voted? Maybe economic growth would be stronger, maybe the NHS wouldn’t be near crisis. And maybe the pressing issues facing students and young people would have properly made it on the agenda.

    Herein lies the greatest barrier to the progress of our generation: we simply don’t vote. Less than half of us young people under 24 voted in the last election, and only 56% of us are registered to vote. On the flip side, 96% of people 65 and older are registered to vote.

    Politicians listen to people who vote. When we don’t vote, we are permitting decision makers to ignore our voice and our needs. Why do you think it’s so easy for politicians to agree to catastrophic tuition fees hikes but not cuts in welfare spending for the older population? They vote and their voice will continue to be echoed in all aspects of policymaking.

    2015 is our chance to make our voices heard. Let’s get politicians talking about zero hour contracts, post-graduate job opportunities, cost of living for students, and home ownership schemes. We can’t keep complaining or acting complacent - we are going to be ignored until we start speaking up.

    On May 7th, go to polls and commit to exercising your right to vote. Even if you feel that your best option to is to spoil the ballot, then do that instead of abstaining from voting. This opportunity only comes around twice a decade and it will have enormous implications for your life in the near future. Let your vote be your tool to making your voice heard.


    See also:

    The General Election and the Student Vote

    Register to vote

    Polling information

  • Fri 17 Apr 2015 17:39

    My list of London must-sees is infamously long. And in a city never lacking in things to do, it seems to grow longer by the day. 

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    I headed out to see whether some of the grandest and most famous attractions were actually worth it. 


    The Original London Bus Tour (£26 adult ticket, online price)

    Excitement: 2/5
    Interest: 5/5
    Navigability: 5/5
    Value for Money: 3/5
    Overall Score: 15/20

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    Former Prime Minister William Gladstone once remarked “the best way to see London is from the top of a bus.” Tour companies have taken his comments to heart and now offer visitors a wide range of open-top double deckers to cruise around the city. 

    My excitement for a ride around town in a bus was a bit reserved given it is how I commute to campus most days. However, the added layer of commentary featuring fun facts about the places we passed held my interest. For instance, did you know Marble Arch was originally meant to stand outside Buckingham Palace? Queen Victoria did not like the design and thus, as the story goes, had a coach built that was deliberately too wide to fit through. The views from the top deck weren’t bad either.

    The bus ticket includes a boat ride from Westminster Pier to Tower Pier and allows visitors to hop on and hop off the bus for a period of 24 hours. Still, the price is steep when you consider you can ride a regular double decker for less than £2.

    Tower Bridge (£5.65 student ticket, online price)

    Excitement: 5/5
    Interest: 5/5
    Navigability: 3/5
    Value for Money: 4/5
    Overall Score: 17/20

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    Tower Bridge features in a good number of my photos from my time in London, but I’d never gone inside. The chance to stand on a glass floor looking down at the Thames 42 metres below? Sign me up!

    The Tower Bridge Exhibition guides visitors through the bridge’s construction process, beginning with a public design competition in 1894. The information presented is interesting, but it’s the views that really take the cake here. The views out to Canary Wharf and of the City of London are some of the best I’ve seen. Coupled with the chance to watch boats pass under and cars drive over the bridge under your feet and you’ve got an excellent adventure.


    Madame Tussauds (Adult tickets range from £22.50 to £27 depending on date and time, online price)

    Excitement: 2/5
    Interest: 1/5
    Navigability: 1/5
    Value for Money: 2/5
    Overall Score: 6/20

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    I’m not quite sure where to begin with this one, but the chaos to even get into the museum is probably a good place to start. The queuing system results in long waiting periods. Unfortunately, once inside navigating doesn’t get any easier. 

    The museum is divided into various sections, ranging from celebrities to sport to historical figures. With only one route through, traffic bottlenecks abound. I spent much of my visit weaving in between fellow visitors, trying to reach the exit. Sure it was fun to take a photo with the royal family, but the stress it involved was less than ideal.

    Bottom line, if the thought of taking a selfie with a wax figure of Prince Harry while attempting not to get hit by the selfie stick of the hundreds of other visitors doing the same doesn’t appeal to you, definitely give this one a miss.


    Science Museum (Free entry)

    Excitement: 2/5
    Interest: 4/5
    Navigability: 2/5
    Value for Money: 5/5
    Overall Score: 13/20

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    The museum’s nonexistent price tag means it is typically quite crowded, so if you visit during a peak time don’t expect to have the space and time to read every placard. But, the nonexistent price tag also means a return visit is not entirely out of the question. 

    As someone not particularly inclined to an interest in the hard sciences, I was pleased to find some exhibits rooted in history as well, including ‘Making the Modern World’ and ‘Information Age.’ I’d recommend planning short visits to the museum rather than attempting to see it all at once, as battling the crowds can lessen your enjoyment of the experience.


    National Gallery (Free entry)

    Excitement: 2/5
    Interest: 5/5
    Navigability: 3/5
    Value for Money: 5/5
    Overall Score: 15/20

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    It didn’t take long for the National Gallery and its next door neighbour the National Portrait Gallery to become two of my favourite spots in London. With changing exhibits and a vast collection, there is always something new to see.

    I’d highly recommend the 60-minute taster tour of the collection, which run twice a day and three times on the weekends. Through the lens of a handful of paintings, the Gallery lecturers give visitors insight into the amazing works of art and the artists who created them. If it is still a bit overwhelming, check out the Gallery’s list of 30 highlight paintings. My personal pick? Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers.’


    National History Museum (Free entry)

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    Unfortunately, this is one that still remains on the list. Although I was able to catch a great view of its exterior from the Science Museum, on my two attempts to visit, I was not able to enter thanks to enormous queues. 

    The free museum appears to be one of the city’s most popular, particularly with families. Both attempted visits were on weekdays, once in the morning and once closer to the museum’s 5:30 pm last entry time. So, I’d recommend you find a super off-peak time to check it out. And if you figure out when that is, please let me know! 


    See also:

    #MaryTakesLondon: Playing Tourist in the City

    Take a Break! Seven Ways to Escape and Explore… And Be Back in 2 Hours