Maples chosen for Tory defector's seat

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The Independent Online
John Maples, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, was selected for the safe seat of Stratford-on-Avon last night, following the defection to Labour of the sitting MP, Alan Howarth.

Mr Maples, 52, was chosen as the prospective candidate during a vote held by more than 200 members of the local Conservative Association at the Grieg Hall, in Alcester, Warwickshire. Mr Maples' rivals - Hugo Summerson, 45, the former MP for Walthamstow, and Desmond Swayne, 39, a computer systems manager - both left the hall at the end of the two-hour-long meeting without waiting to hear Mr Maples give his victory speech.

Constituency MP Mr Howarth defected to the Labour Party in October this year, on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference.

Mr Maples, who lost his Lewisham West seat at the last election, said he now wanted to challenge Mr Howarth at a by-election.

"Stratford-on-Avon will be a Conservative seat after the next election," he said. "Mr Howarth changed his mind and we think he should give the people of Stratford-on-Avon the chance to change their minds and then we will see how popular he is."