General Election Day: the vibe at SOAS

Election WP

Christmas is in the air at SOAS. We’ve bought our eco-friendly presents from the sustainable Christmas fayre, the lights are up on Oxford Street, and everyone’s getting ready for the year’s final late license in the JCR. But before we can fully get into the Christmas spirit, there’s an election to get through… Will we be celebrating or drowning our sorrows on Friday night? 

As usual, SOAS students have been very vocal in the run-up to the vote. In my circle of friends, it’s clear that the majority of us just want to keep the Tories out; after years of fatal austerity, this appears to be the common consensus among the SOAS student body. In the Labour camp, some are die-hard Corbynites (he spoke at SOAS in support of the End SOAS Outsourcing campaign, find out more HERE. I only saw it on Instagram as I overslept and missed my 9 am – oops), whereas others are very critical of him, citing examples of anti-Semitic behaviour.

I’ve had conversations with SOASians intending on voting Lib Dem and Green this election, and even a few (admittedly rather shy) Tories.

We shouldn’t forget that many SOAS students can’t vote in this election – over 40% of our students are international, which means that a large proportion of them will be disenfranchised today. This doesn’t stop them from getting involved, though! Some of the fieriest conversations I’ve had in the run-up to this election have been with international students, many of whom actively volunteer and campaign for the party they support.

It’s decision time for a lot of our domestic students when it comes to choosing where to vote. Students can register to vote in the election in two constituencies – where they live in term time, and where they live at home (although of course, they can only vote in one place). Living in London means you get some pretty famous MPs – if you live in Dinwiddy or Paul Robeson, your MP would’ve been Emily Thornberry, and we’ll see who it is after today! I’m heading back to my hometown, Bedford, a Labour/Tory swing seat today to campaign for our Labour candidate.

Tottenham, where I live when at uni, is David Lammy’s seat – he’s got a pretty solid 80% share of the vote and is actually a SOAS alumni!

As the SOAS Spirit, our leading student newspaper, reported, there are actually three ex-SOAS students standing for parliament in this election: Bella Sankey, who did her postdoctorate studies at SOAS is standing for Labour in the Arundel and South Downs constituency; Catherine West, who holds an MA in Chinese Studies from SOAS is also standing for Labour in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency; and of course, my MP, David Lammy, who did his undergraduate degree in Law at SOAS.

This Friday, I’ll be looking around the JCR as I sip my (hopefully celebratory) pint, and wondering which of the current SOAS students I’m looking at will one day be standing for election.

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