— Karl McCartney is the Conservative MP for Lincoln
During my time in politics I have been called many things but the thought of being likened as a political version of pop’s ultimate one-hit wonder, Chesney Hawkes, would bring a shudder to anyone’s spine.
In Peter Smith’s column on May 7 he sets out why he believes the recent council elections could see me lose Lincoln at the next General Election.
While the overall result was disappointing in the local elections, as the Conservatives lost control of the City Council, it was just by losing one City Council seat, and looking at the constituency as a whole (which includes two wards from North Kesteven District Council – Bracebridge Heath/Waddington East and Skellingthorpe), it is clear that everything is still to play for.
Combining the election results it shows the Conservatives were just over 250 votes behind Labour overall, and while there was a collapse in the Lib Dem vote, both the Conservatives and Labour increased their share of the vote in Lincoln.
Added into this, is the fact that in the city last year, at the local elections, the Conservatives polled fewer votes than Labour but at the General Election which took into account the two North Kesteven wards, I managed to romp home with a 1,058 majority. It means there is a difference in how people vote at a General Election and a local election especially as the turnout of the latter this year is much lower.
Looking ahead, there are a number of issues which mean that I do not feel like I am in a ‘Chesney Hawkes’ position.
While things are tough economically for the city, its businesses and residents, at the moment, I have found lots of optimism for the future. Not just in terms of a feeling the local economy is turning the corner but also in terms of improving infrastructure that is now coming on stream such as the widening of the A46 and the direct train route to London. I am still working on the Eastern Bypass, the East-West Link Road and the High Street Level Crossing, and I hope to have positive news during this government and my time as Lincoln’s Member of Parliament.
As well as this, there will also be boundary changes affecting the County and its Westminster seats, including Lincoln itself. Whilst no one can predict what these will be, it does mean the current parliamentary seat will be different so there cannot be a complete ‘read across’ from the last General Election, nor the last local elections, to what will happen at the next General Election in four years’ time.
Whatever the new boundaries, my view is that the coalition government’s handling of the economy and its recovery will be the overriding factor at the next election. In many ways I think the next General Election will be like the victory the Conservatives enjoyed in 1983 when they inherited a difficult economy in 1979. The electorate would rather re-elect a government and a party that has turned around the economy like the Conservatives and offers a bright future, than one which did its best to ruin it, like Labour did.
All this means I remain hopeful and confident, unlike Peter Smith, that in 10 years’ time I will not be on the political equivalent of the Top of the Pops 2’s recent show on ‘one-hit wonders’. In the meantime I will continue to work to the best of my abilities to represent and help the good people of the Lincoln Constituency in my role as their Member of Parliament.