Conservatives split over selection of Henley by-election candidate

Watchers of BBC TV’s regional news tonight will have heard how the Conservatives “have been split” over the selection of their Henley Parliamentary by-election candidate.

You can watch the piece at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7424197.stm

The background is that the local party had a timetable it wanted to follow for selecting their candidate, including the use of an open primary. Conservative Central Office tried to talk them out of both, sending John Maples to tell them what to do. According to a well-placed eye-witness John Maples’s pleas were rebuffed and David Cameron then had to meet personally with the local party to get it to fall into line.

On BBC Radio Oxford this morning the local party chair, John Walsh, confirmed that the local party had been “firmly told” what to do.

The Conservative selection is now taking place on Friday night.

Stephen Kearney will be the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Henley by-election.

UPDATE: Judging from many of the comments over on ConservativeHome, quite a few Conservative members are getting a bit nervous about their chances in the by-election. I also particularly liked the comment from one local: “Perhaps you ought to hurry up. We’ve already had two leaflets and, just now, a “newspaper” through the door from the LibDems!” Things have not been helped by the touch of farce.

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