With a General Election looming, What is the best way forward for Labour?

So just when we thought the UK had its fair share of uncertainty after Brexit, there was a bigger wave on the horizon.

There will be a General Election on June 8th. Theresa May claims she reluctantly came to the decision, but this is definitely something that she would not have proposed if she did not think she would win and get a higher number of MPs. Opinion polls do show the Conservatives some way ahead of Labour, but is all lost? Does Labour have a chance to fight against a hard Brexit and gain some remain voters?

Labour has to be extremely careful in the way they pitch themselves as a party in these next few weeks. May and her government are great at grabbing the public’s attention with classic phrases like ‘helping ordinary working people’ and making people feel inclusive of the party. What does ordinary working people even mean anyhow? Labour needs to be clear, and give out the parties message in a way people can understand.

Labour needs to focus on its key policies, what it can do for the NHS and stop the privatisation of the health service and other sectors. Jeremy Corbyn needs to give clear facts. The parties recent introduction of the free school meals policy will definitely sway some voters and it is an example of concrete ideas and plans that the labour party would put in place.

Again, another issue is Brexit. Labour needs to give its standpoint on Brexit. Would they vote against Brexit? Would the stay part of the single market? Would it be a softer Brexit than Theresa May’s? The public have questions and if they are left with no answers, it’s inevitable that the public will vote with what they know. If Labour does not address this properly, they will lose MP’s to the Liberal Democrats no question. The Lib Dems are not afraid to express their discontent at Brexit, and they would even go as far as to stop it happening. How that is possible after the triggering of Article 50 I do not know.

If Labour is to have a chance at winning this coming election they need to take Brexit into account and offer to the public their chosen path as we leave the EU.

As Jeremy Corbyn said himself in a conference speech today, back in 2015 he was at 200/1 odds to win the Labour leadership contest and look at where he is now.

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From the past 12 months, we have had shocks not only in the UK with Brexit but also in America with the surprise election of Trump, you could argue that anything is possible.

Header photo: Garry Knight Creative Commons, no license   

A week guide for students in London: 7 places all under £5!

Student in London? No money? Worry no more! Here is a place to visit – everyday of the week that wont break your bank or take a hit at your student loans.

Monday – Victoria Park

Victoria Park which is located in the East of London is, in my opinion, one of the nicest places to visit in London. It is so tranquil and it even has a lake which you can actually get a paddle boat and go across it during the year. Of course this is a very cheap place to go, its open to the public and free, although there is a lovely Cafe called Pavilion where you can buy some banana loaf or eat a full English while looking over the lake.

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Photo: Sarah Jardine – Victoria Park

Ministry of Sound – Tuesday 

The infamous Ministry of Sound night club holds a student night on Tuesday’s, Harrar! Nights out in London can become expensive very quickly for students. £4 entry to the club and drinks range from £3-£5 which for London is really good. They do different themes every Tuesday, from neon raves to dedicated nights to an artist. This is not one to miss, with five indoor rooms with a range of different music, there is something for everyone.

Angel Comedy night – Wednesday

A free comedy night at the Camden Head in Islington is definitely worth visiting. FREE?! Yes, absolutely free. The comedy night is on every single day of the week, so whenever you have some free time from your studies, make sure to visit Camden Head for a lot of laughs. The comedians have 5 minutes to impress, and the atmosphere is great and everyone is jovial.

Covent Garden – Thursday

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Photo:SarahJardine

Covent Garden is a must! There are always great street performers and window shopping galore! It is a beautiful place to visit, you do not have to buy anything just wander around the beautiful ‘indoor streets’ and look at the lovely flowers that are plotted in many different places. If you want to gain a better idea of Covent Garden watch my vlog.

Friday – Tate Modern and St Paul’s Cathedral

The Tate Modern art gallery is free admission and well worth visiting. There are many different types of exhibitions and thought provoking pieces of art work. Just across the Millennium Bridge is the beautifully stoic St Paul’s Cathedral which is lovely to look at and walk around the gardens. I think it is nice to look at St Paul’s from the outside, but if you are thinking of visiting, ticket prices are here.

Saturday – Koko Camden 

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via GIPHY

Koko in Camden is well known for its Buttoned Down Disco Saturday’s. One Saturday every month is free entry before 10:30pm. That may seem really early to many of you, but when entry is £10 after, us students have no choice. Whenever I’ve been and it’s before 10:30 the venue is already packed and buzzing, the party well underway. There are many floors and there is a big dance floor area, if you pre-drink before it can be a very cheap night! The next night is 6th May and you can get an ‘invite’ here.

Sunday – Shoreditch market

On Sunday’s you will see Shoreditch absolutely packed both of people and market stalls. There is fresh produce, discount items, even sometimes from big labels, and a wide range of tasty food with that extra something special. It is a spectacle for the eyes, even if you don’t buy anything because you are strapped for cash, I mean which student has spare money, let’s be honest!

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Photo:Garry Knight under the creative commons license

We Are Human: My Night in Paris

 

Ida takes a sip of tea, “I feel lucky” she tells me, her face reliving the memories of her night in Paris.

19-year-old Ida Wehberg was in the French capital during the Islamic State attacks on Friday 13th November 2015. A concert hall, restaurants and even a stadium were targets for the attackers. A year and a half on, Ida recalls the memories that haunt her today and how she dealt with her emotions through her love of music.

Ida took a gap year before going to University and was working in a local café in her native town of Oslo. “Everyone had gone to university we just needed a break from the boring life,” so, joined by her best friend booked a long weekend trip to France.

On the Friday of the attack, Ida’s shopping spree took longer than expected. Instead of going clubbing which she and her friend intended to do, they chose to visit a nearby Italian restaurant. Asking her about the atmosphere before the attack she said: “it was good, there were many French locals and really good vibes!”

 

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Paris – credits to Moyan Brenn creative commons license

Then it started. At first, a friend from Norway texts her, then a flooding of information on their social media. “First we couldn’t quite understand it, this is OK nobody is reacting, but then my friend from London called me and I realised something more was happening.” Ida told me she “felt trapped” and had many questions on her mind. Should we go outside? Should we stay where we are? She said people in the restaurant were slow to react. Ida asked the manager of the restaurant if he had any idea what was going on. Laughing in reply, he said ‘I make pizza that’s all I know’. Ida felt nervous, uncomfortable and didn’t know what was going on, so decided to leave the restaurant.

Upon returning to the hotel she ‘wanted to cry but I didn’t know if I could because I was so shocked.” My mum and dad were tense because I was in Paris, and “had lit a candle for me” hoping that I would be safe. It was only until later I understood how much it affected my family and friends.

“You never expect it to happen when you are there.”

A terrorist attack was the “last thing” on Ida’s mind when she booked flights to the capital. That same year 7th January 2015, Islamist gunmen forced their way into the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, killing 12 people. She was aware of the attack earlier that year on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo but Ida did not expect anything to happen when they were there. It was the last thing on Ida’s mind, she tells me she is a nervous flyer and was more worried about the flights than a terrorist attack.

Ida, although not directly involved, was greatly affected by what happened. “It was a 15-minute walk away, it’s hard with the distance you think it’s far away but its closer when you look on a map.” She was re-considering going to University in London after the attack, “what happened stuck with me.’ She still gets scared of minor things in her day to day life that mentally take her back to that night. “I still get scared if the tube stands still in the tunnel. I went to the women’s march and I was scared about that because I was scared they would take advantage of the huge crowds.” She looks into my eyes and tells me, “I try not to let it stop me,” and I believe her. She still decided to come to London to study and writing the song ‘We are human” was a way of her trying to take control of the situation. Although it is not published, it was something she created for herself personally to understand in her mind what happened.

When asking her about the attacks that have happened recently, like the Berlin Christmas markets she said it “makes her go back to that time,” in Paris you could feel everything in the city and there was so much tension. “It was a ghost town.”

In disbelief she tells me it was central Paris, pre-Christmas spirit, yet nobody was outside, “literally no one” and if they were, they were in cars, but there was no traffic. She understood what the city of Berlin was going through, that it is not just the people who are attacked but the city itself, and you feel more deeply with people and the city when you go through a similar experience.

Ida leans in a little, telling me she is better expressing herself through song or lyrics. In Paris “I’d seen these posters saying ‘we are human’, and it just stuck with me.” The moment Ida was back in her home in Oslo, the melody came instantaneously and she wrote the entire song “We are human” there and then. The song is remarkably powerful “I saw the lights go dark in a broken town … with our love and strength we fight for those who didn’t get to come back home tonight.” It creates such a profound effect on the listener and gives insight into what Ida experienced, the desolate Paris that she herself witnessed the day after. Ida tells me the song helped her to deal with her emotions and made her question why those people did what they did.

“What happened to the child you have inside?”

“Do they every cry?”

– If you have been affected by situations like this and feel you need to talk to someone contact, samaritans.org who are happy to listen. – 

 

 

 

Harrods, Kensington Palace and Covent Garden, London.

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Photo: Sarah Jardine

The weather in London today was beautiful. It felt like the first day of spring, and I could not wait to go into the city and explore with Ida.

We literally got onto the Circle line, the doors closed and then we looked at each other. Where are we going? The trip was that spontaneous but it made it soo much better!! We decided on going to Covent Garden, I haven’t been there in over a year so it was great to visit again. I love taking days out to be a tourist in London.

We walked around the market stalls and even eyed-up some very tasty looking strawberries dipped in chocolate. I did not dare look at the price. Covent Garden was lovely as always, and the atmosphere was great when walking around. Everyone was so happy. It is amazing what a little sun can do!

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Photo: Sarah Jardine

Then we left and were on our way to Knightsbridge and Harrods. I have visited Harrods once before as a child, and I remembered seeing the Diana memorial and how grand the place was, but it was great to see it again with older eyes. It is mesmerizing in Harrods, every item of clothing, every perfume, is perfect.

Visiting Harrods definitely gave me new motivation to work hard at university, I’ll tell you that.

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Photo: Sarah Jardine

Later, we arrived at Kensington Gardens. We sat on the hill and finally ate some food. There was such a nice vibe in the area, everyone was picnicking or relaxing while the sun was beaming down. If you visit London you have to take time out to visit some of these places.

It was such a lovely day, and you can even watch it here on my youtube channel!

Weekend away in Canterbury, Kent

Moving down to London for a university is somewhat strange coming from York. If you are from York you go to Newcastle or Sheffield, or just primarily stay in the northern parts of England when it comes to picking universities. However, somehow I ended up in London. A lot of my friends from back home are busy with their courses and we haven’t gotten a chance to visit each other.

Luckily for me, Zaire, a close friend from college is studying at the University of Kent and asked me over to visit. Perhaps stupidly of me, I didn’t realise when I’d hopped on the train at St Pancras, that I was going further south again. Actually, thinking about it, I think this is perhaps the most south place I’ve been to yet.

Arriving in Canterbury was at first quite a shock for me. Not only was I surprised at how quiet it was, but I was also surprised at how acclimatised to London I had become. Canterbury is actually very similar to my hometown of York.

Zaire took me on a trip around the city centre, showcasing the city off in the best way he could. There were beautiful streams, greenery and ancient buildings.

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Canterbury city centre

This photo reminds me greatly of the cobbled streets of The Shambles in York. Canterbury definitely made me feel at home.

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Beautiful houses near the city centre

I even managed to get on of those ‘tourist photos’. I couldn’t help myself.

 

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It’s a yes from me

 

The photos speak for themselves. Canterbury is very beautiful. The atmosphere is relaxing and there are many cafes’s and trinket shops to go and visit. For me, it is probably too small to live there for a long time, however, it is definitely a place you should consider visiting. From London, it’s a 56-minute train journey and will cost you around £18 for a return. There really is no excuse not to visit, especially with summer just around the corner.

‘A Global Britain’: Theresa May states her plans in Brexit speech

Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech earlier this month outlining her and the government’s plans for leaving the EU. She confirmed again she is planning to trigger Article 50 (which then starts the process of leaving the EU) by 31st March 2017. This process can take up to two years and suggests some uncertainty for the coming few years. Nobody can guess what will happen, even May herself, telling the public the road ahead will be ‘uncertain’ at times.

The PM spoke of the 52% of leave voters who ‘voted for change’ and seemed to take great care in addressing leave voters, showing that she is taking into account their vote. Theresa May argues Britain will be “stronger, fairer, more united and more outward looking than ever before” after leaving the EU. However this is up for debate and personal opinion, much of the country is divided on the matter.  Theresa May also stated that we cannot remain a member of the single market. That would mean we (Britain) do not have specific trade deals within the European Union. May argues we must be able to strike deals outside of the EU, and in turn, we would not contribute to the EU budget.

May’s argument was very much this. Leaving the EU does not mean Britain can not be an inclusive member and have poor trade. Quite the opposite, Britain can choose its trade deals and become a ‘global Britain’ free to trade with countries they choose. May tries to convey Britain is open for business, that after leaving the EU, we ‘call the shots.’

Unsurprisingly, this speech did make an impact. It gave a certainty of some kind to the public and businesses in the UK of what direction things would happen. There was a surge in the GBP currency, suggesting that many took reassurance from what the PM said.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, spoke on LBC radio calling May’s speech ‘strong, clear, new, decisive, I loved it.’ Farage, a strong campaigner for leave and Brexit agreed that “we are going global”. He stated he was “reasonably encouraged by things she has said” and that he had said things like this for years and now the PM was saying those things. A milestone in his opinion and could be interpreted as a far shift to the right for the Conservative government.

A different opinion came from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who before has come under fire about where his loyalties lie regarding the European Union. The leader of the opposition states the prime minister has made clear she will use Brexit to turn Britain into a ‘bargain basement tax haven.’ He later adds, “she talks about Brexit restoring parliamentary sovereignty but, once again, she is determined to avoid real scrutiny of her plans.”

Laurenne Farber, a french student at City University of London told me her worries about Britain leaving the EU. “The process of getting out of the EU hasn’t started yet but since the result of the referendum, Brexit has been a source of anxiety because I didn’t know if I was still entitled to the same loans and grants.” This is for many EU students studying at University in the UK a worrying prospect. Laurenne told me it would be a loss for the UK if the number of EU students decreased.  When asked for her opinion on May’s speech, her reply seemed reminiscent of many remain campaigners “To me May’s approach of Brexit feels nationalist. The irony is that since the referendum, the UK seems more divided than ever.”

 

Theresa May image: Donkey Hotey  Creative Commons licence

 

Day out in S̶u̶n̶n̶y̶ Rainy Southend-on-Sea

It was cold. Then it rained. Then it snowed.

Today I travelled to ‘sunny Southend’ which, wasn’t actually very sunny at all. It was my uncle’s birthday so I visited Essex to celebrate. We decided to walk down the pier and eat a snack at the end. I don’t know what I was thinking because it was raining before we set off. The pier is 1.34 miles long and we walked it both ways. Too much excercise for a girl who has only just started the gym and is full of cold!

Before I attempted the pier walk...

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Look how happy I was. I am so niaive.

After battling the rain to get back onto shore we stopped by Oliver’s restaurant. It is contained in a small hut on the sea front and was a great place to take a break from the weather and rest our feet.

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Can you see the sea?

I ended up eating a fish finger and chip sandwich which was extremely appropriate as I was at the seaside. Tasted great too, thumbs up from me.

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Last but not least, I saw the first snow of 2017 in Essex this evening!!!!!!! I was so disappointed the snow hadn’t made its way to London.

 

Adios amigos, until next time.

 

University struggles

Its 2am and I’m wide awake. I’ve been busy today, visited the gym, (new years resolution going well). I even went to university to spend hours revising. Yet, I’m here. Lying in bed and my brain seems to have no intent of resting and letting me sleep.

University has well and truly broken my body and we are only starting our second semester. Living away from home and studying at university is much harder than you first expect.

Firstly you think its going to be incredible living on your own, (I mean of course) doing what you want to do, when you want to do it. The reality is that you don’t do anything that you wouldn’t of done at home, and you don’t have the home comforts. You don’t have someone who can make you dinner. You do not go to the fridge and find it full because mum has done the food shop. The dog that wags his tail when you walk through the door isn’t their at your university halls. Let’s not get started about budgeting and how little money you have either.

Parties. Nights out. Clubbing. Surely that is what university is about?

Unfortunately it’s not. Especially for me living in London I have no money to afford £10 entry prices and drinks triple the price compared to back home. Salvation I miss you.

University is hard, it is a struggle and at times you do wonder how life would be if you were in a job instead. But with the hard times there are good times. Great times. I have made friends for life through this experience, people that I would never have come into contact with otherwise. My course has enlightened me on many world issues and really pushes me as a student. Living away from home has given me stamina, mental strength and independence that I could never have by staying at home. It’s worth pushing through  hard times to reap the rewards at the end.

This is by no means a depressing post, just the feelings of a university student at 2am who cannot sleep.

 

 

ATP Barclays World Tour Finals

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The court at the O2.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Tennis ATP World Championships in London. It was the second day of the event, which had seen the likes of Novak Djokovic play in hope of winning the match title. I was fortunate enough to see Andy Murray play his first match as world no.1. The atmosphere in the arena was remarkable. The support for Murray was overwhelming, with frequent comments from the umpire to quiet down. The Scottish no.1 did not disappoint. At first he seemed agitated and tired but soon picked up to take the game in straight sets. He stood victorious against opponent Marin Cilic and is now set to play Kei Nishikori on Wednesday. Watching the match was a thrilling experience and that was from the undoubted support of the fans. Good luck Murray !

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