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ELECTION: Howell cruises to Henley victory
CONSERVATIVE John Howell cruised to victory in the rock-solid Tory seat of Henley this morning.
Mr Howell said he had felt “more and more pleased as the night went on”, having watched bundles of ballot papers pile up in his favour at Thame Leisure Centre.
He said: “First and foremost I want to continue to be the good constituency MP that I believe I have become.
“Should Mr Cameron ask me to serve in any capacity to help deliver the manifesto, I will be only too delighted to assist him.
“As with every weekend, my phone will be on and beside me.”
Mr Howell polled 33,054 votes, with his nearest challenge coming from Liberal Democrat Andy Crick.
Mr Crick admitted he had failed in his attempt to oust the incumbent less than an hour into counting, conceding that overturning a 10,000 majority was impossible.
He said: “The Tories have clearly won by a landslide. We ran a limited campaign with limited resources and time. We hoped we would have had more votes based on the national campaign as well, but it does not look good.”
Labour’s Richard McKenzie, who was hobbling around the count having injured his ankle falling off his bicycle earlier in the day, said he had beaten the BNP’s John Bews, reversing his humiliation in the 2008 by-election, when Labour was beaten into fifth place.
He said: “I was always quite confident that we would beat the BNP. What happened before was an aberration and I hope it will never happen again in Henley.
“I think a lot of Labour voters have come home.”
Mr Bews, Oxfordshire’s only BNP candidate, said he had been “encouraged” by support in Berinsfield, Wheatley and parts of Thame.
He claimed many of his leaflets had not been delivered by the Royal Mail, and said the party would seek an official inquiry into whether that was the case after the election.
There was a huge turnout of 73.3 per cent, up five per cent from the 2005 election.
Mr Howell said he had seen queues at polling stations in Chinnor and Thame yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, South Oxfordshire District Council leader Ann Ducker, who has been telling at polling stations for 27 years, said she had never seen so many new faces queuing up to vote.