Earlier tonight, after a touch of farce, John Howell was selected by the Conservatives to be their candidate in the Henley by-election. His selection has been welcomed by Stephen Kearney from the Liberal Democrats, who has already been hard at work on the Henley by-election campaign trail for several weeks:
After a difficult selection process [a reference to this], the Conservatives have settled on County Councillor John Howell as their candidate in the forthcoming by-election.
The Liberal Democrats have welcomed the news of the selection of John Howell. Liberal Democrat candidate and charity boss Stephen Kearney said: “I am looking forward to debating the issues that affect people across the Henley constituency with Councillor John Howell in the coming weeks.
“Our campaign has been up and running for several weeks, Nick Clegg has surveyed the entire constituency and we are getting a very warm reception on doorsteps. We are ready for the Conservatives to fire the starting gun whenever they are ready to provide local people with a date.”
John Howell is an Oxfordshire County Councillor, which means his and the Conservative Party’s record on the county council is now likely to come under very close scrutiny. Indeed, the party’s own press release on John Howell’s selection states:
Liberal Democrat Deputy Director of Campaigns Neil Fawcett said:
“We are delighted that the Conservatives have settled on Councillor John Howell. The selection of a senior County Councillor will provide local people with the chance to have their say on rising Council Tax bills and the Conservatives’ record in Oxfordshire.
“Stephen Kearney will be a strong voice for local people. He has an excellent track record of listening to local communities as part of his charity work. Stephen has already taken up a number of local issues such as the loss of local services, expansion onto the green belt and anti-social behaviour.”
UPDATE: John Howell has now come under scrutiny for his links to property developers.