You’d have thought that having splits in the Henley Conservatives over the selection of their by-election candidate, or having a Shadow Cabinet member flatly contradict what the Conservatives are claiming in their leaflets would be enough bad news to be going on with for the Conservative by-election campaign.
But oh no. Now Mark Stevenson, the Green Party candidate in the Henley Parliamentary by-election, has attacked Conservative candidate John Howell and his campaign for the content of its leaflets: “It’s interesting that the Conservatives should already feel so insecure about their candidate that they appear to have resorted to deliberate lies before the campaign is a day old.”
“Within 24 hours of being selected as the Conservative candidate, John Howell showed that he is more gaffe prone than Boris. The Conservative news sheet “intouch” was distributed across the constituency with the headline ‘Conservatives Pick the Only Local Candidate’.
As Mr Howell well knows, the Green Party candidate, Mark Stevenson, is every bit as local as he is. Mark lives in the neighbouring village and his selection was announced by the local press the day before Mr Howell was selected.
Indeed, not only did Mr Howell know that Mark Stevenson is the Green candidate, but he knows exactly how local he is. Mark is a parish councillor in Dorchester on Thames where Mr Howell has regularly been quizzed by him at council meetings.
Their paths have also crossed when, in his capacity as a school governor, Mark raised concerns with Mr Howell about the purpose and efficiency of Oxfordshire County Council’s Review of Primary Schools. [ThameNews.net]
Although Mark Stevenson doesn’t mention it, Stephen Kearney – the Liberal Democrat candidate – also lives in the constituency, in Aston Rowant.
UPDATE: Conservative by-election candidate John Howell has now come under scrutiny for his links to property developers.