Reflections 2012: Making national policy work locally

Reflecting on the events of 2012, it strikes me just how quickly the year has gone by and it seems like yesterday when I was writing my last New Year review for 2011.

However, it has been a very eventful year, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place in the summer; and we have also seen many events on the political landscape, such as the Leveson Inquiry into the media, and signs of economic growth in the latter half of the year (the 1% GDP growth from July-September marked the biggest quarterly increase for five years).

This welcome economic news was followed by a strong Autumn Statement which outlined a number of measures to help my constituents in Lincoln and the region as a whole.

Indeed, the East Midlands will see 1.8 million people receive an income tax cut and the 2.7 million motorists in our region will welcome the cancellation of the rise of fuel duty which the previous Labour Government had provisioned for 2013. I know that businesses in my constituency will also welcome the significant drop in corporation tax and the small business rate relief.

We also had good news at the beginning of this month with the successful campaign to retain HMP Lincoln in its current form. This prison is critical to our ability to keep communities safe and preventing levels of reoffending. It is also good news in the fact that it has safeguarded the 500 or so jobs at the prison, as well as maintaining nearly £11 million in investment for Lincolnshire’s economy.

As I mentioned above, we also saw Lord Justice Leveson deliver his report into media standards this year. I was pleased to see that the Prime Minister supports the key principle of the report, which would see independent self-regulation of the press. I support this principle.

On grounds of principle, practicality and necessity, I am not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary to achieve the objectives we all want to see, which is why I recently co-signed a letter with my fellow parliamentarians, calling on David Cameron to oppose the imposition of any form of statutory control (even if it is dressed up as underpinning).

As some of you may be aware, I was also recently elected to the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee by my fellow Conservative MPs. I believe that this appointment will be very beneficial for me as the Member of Parliament for Lincoln as I work will all concerned to improve transport links to our City, the railway crossing in the City Centre and also our roads in and around the City. On a national level, the Committee has a number of important inquiries ahead, with work being conducted on the franchising system for our railways, as well as looking into the Government’s aviation strategy.

This year I also had to take the reluctant step to rebel against the Government on a few issues, most recently at the end of October with a vote on increasing the EU budget. At a time of austerity at home, with tough decisions being made on public spending, police pensions etc., it was inconceivable that the EU Commission could propose a large increase to the EU budget which would take total spending up to €990bn for the 2014-2020 period. I therefore decided to vote in favour of the amendment tabled by my Conservative colleague Mark Reckless MP, which called for a real reduction in the size of the EU budget.

However, overall I think that we can look back at 2012 and say that the Government of which I am a part has taken a number of steps to ensure that the UK is back on the right track. We have seen the budget deficit cut by a quarter in two years; and almost 500,000 more people are in work that this time last year. We have also seen one million new jobs created in the private sector since the election in 2010.

Looking ahead, I am sure that 2013 will provide us with a number of fresh challenges here in Lincoln and nationally, however I promise to be a strong voice for my constituents in Parliament maintaining my pledge to be ‘Putting Lincoln First’. In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a prosperous New Year.

— Karl McCartney is the Conservative MP for Lincoln