The rare breeds of Chelsea

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The Independent Online
Some 150 miles to the east of Blaenau Gwent, Robert Atkinson is about to try and win the safest Tory seat for Labour on a patch that includes Kensington Palace, Harrods and the Royal Albert Hall.

Despite the notional 20,000 or so majority that Tory Alan Clark has inherited from his deselected forerunner, Sir Nicholas Scott, following boundary changes, his 43-year-old Labour rival is optimistic about his fight in Kensington and Chelsea. "I think the national mood even here is ready for a change. People appreciate that the Labour challenge is credible. I've been getting the best responses on the doorstep I've ever had," said Mr Atkinson, Labour leader on Kensington and Chelsea Council.

He points out that his children attend local schools, and that he is interested in education and in a strategic authority for London.

This is his first time as a candidate and, at the end of the day, will he be looking for a safer bet? "I am interested in being involved in national politics, let's put it that way," he says, with all the tact needed of a man who may soon be putting Labour leaflets through the doors of more millionaires than his predecessor had votes.

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