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Constructive campaign

Challengers for a safe Conservative seat are showing how it's possible to campaign on issues rather than personalities. Perhaps this is because each has a strong link to research, says Miriam Frankel.

“They seem like very nice people,” says Kate Prendergast, the Green candidate for Wantage in Oxfordshire, when talking about her competitors for this safe Conservative seat. Such uncharacteristic generosity in an otherwise highly combative political system could partly be because two of her rivals are working scientists. Prendergast herself has a PhD in archaeology.

“We are all honest folk, pursuing our goals,” says Stephen Webb, the candidate for Labour and a physicist: “I think we are all a bit less outspoken and aggressive than other politicians, but I don’t think the public look on that as a negative thing,” he adds. Lee Upcraft, the candidate for the UK Independence Party, is also a physicist. The Liberal Democrats’ Alex Meredith is a solicitor specialising in renewable energy.

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