December 14, 2021 8.15 pm

Karl McCartney discusses two years back as MP, COVID policy, conduct breaches and Lincoln’s future

Plans stay the same: “Putting Lincoln First!”

Karl McCartney has called it an “honour and privilege” to serve as Lincoln’s MP as he celebrates two years back in the role, and he has spoke to The Lincolnite about his time in office so far; from controversy to policy success.

Two years ago, on December 12, 2019, Conservative Karl McCartney regained his seat as Lincoln MP, defeating Labour candidate Karen Lee two years after she had taken the seat from McCartney in the 2017 General Election.

Since then, there has been a global pandemic, and more locally the handover of the Lincoln Eastern Bypass after years of development (which the Lincoln MP suggested should be called McCartney Way).

McCartney Way or Lincoln Eastern Bypass (A15)? | Photos: Lincolnshire County Council / Steve Smailes / Collage: The Lincolnite

The Lincolnite asked Karl McCartney MP a series of questions about his two years since being re-elected, looking at past conduct allegations, challenges faced through the pandemic, his voting record, and what he considers to be the big successes of his tenure.

Our job as journalists is to hold those in power to account and ask questions of authority figures for the benefit of public transparency. It is crucial that people know what their elected representatives stand for and seek to vote through parliament.

Q&A with Lincoln MP Karl McCartney:

The Lincolnite: How would you sum up your last two years in office? What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced as well as some of the big successes?

Karl McCartney: As the Member of Parliament for Lincoln the way I always look at matters, including any challenges and successes, is always through the lives and experiences of those I have the honour and privilege to represent.

Due to the pandemic, the past two years have been incredibly tough for everyone. From those who have lost loved ones, those who are isolated and the extra pressure on workers, businesses and those at school, college and university. My team and I see the effect of this on a daily basis through the mailbag, inbox and in meeting people and businesses.

We have been doing all we can to provide practical help and comfort to my constituents and thousands of Lincoln residents who have written to me regarding a vast array of topics and issues that we have responded to with practical help, advice and assistance. As ever most of the useful work that a marginal seat Member of Parliament does, is through their casework.

There have been a number of successes, albeit they should be placed firmly in the context of the above. These range from the 120+ extra police officers we will soon have across the county, the extra A&E investment for Lincoln County Hospital and the Government funding we have had for our city centre, heritage sector and arts community. To be fair, I have been banging on ministerial doors a lot on behalf of the city and residents I represent, so it is working.

Personally the biggest success has been the opening of the Eastern Bypass (aka “McCartney Way”) this time last year and the confirmation of Government funding for the Southern Bypass (North Hykeham Relief Road). When first elected in 2010, I made it my biggest commitment to the City and despite the doom-mongers telling me it was unachievable; by 2027 it should all be completed and in place, with work on this final section beginning in the next few years.

TL: What are your plans for the next two years? Do you have any big announcements in the pipeline?

KM: My major plans for the next two years are the same for all years – “Putting Lincoln First!”

Firstly, I want to see things being delivered so the extra police officers and hospital investment we have received for example must produce real results such as cuts in crime and shorter post-pandemic waiting times.

Secondly, I really want our wonderful city to be recognised nationally and globally as the “Best Place in Britain to Live, Work, Study and Visit”. We have the perfect combination of a wonderful heritage, cutting edge businesses, brilliant shops, vibrant arts community, great civic bodies and a fantastic college, medical school and two leading universities.

We even have a RAF base that is very busy and at the forefront of defending our country, and soon to be home to the Red Arrows. I want to work with everyone to achieve this and it will be my focus for the next two years, and the foreseeable future. The big announcement will be when others state that we have this recognition.

TL: What in your view is the biggest issue facing Lincoln now, and how do you plan to fix it?

KM: The biggest issue facing those in Lincoln and the county right now is the “stop start” draconian guidance being placed on the city and everyone in the country with respect to the pandemic. It has to stop – we simply cannot go on like this.

Let’s roll out the booster as fast as possible (and can every adult who qualifies to be vaccinated, and wishes to be, please do so), this will ensure we can move the economy forward and allow us all to go back to normal. In terms of fixing it, I will be arguing for the Government to change its tack and on the other hand, I will also keep promoting Lincoln with all my might. We all have to be on the front foot in 2022 and in future years.

TL: In light of alleged Christmas parties inside government last year, can you understand why the 900 fined in Lincolnshire for COVID breaches may feel wronged?

KM: I understand and share the anger felt by people at the video of Number 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures, but these individuals as far as I am aware were not at the alleged events.

So many people have made enormous personal sacrifices throughout the pandemic and it is deeply uncomfortable to think that some of the people responsible for setting the rules within No. 10 Downing Street, at whatever level they operated at, may not have been following the rules that we had to all comply with.

These issues are being investigated as I write so the key thing will be their outcome, and the disciplinary actions taken against anyone found to have not acted appropriately.

TL: Were you aware of/did you attend any parties?

KM: I was not aware of and did not attend any parties that breached lockdown rules. In 2022, I am hoping that there will be no lockdown rules at all that apply to parties or any events.

TL: You recently voted against new regulations for mask wearing and self-isolation, and have criticised other measures like the COVID app and vaccine passport. How would you manage the COVID recovery? What would you do differently?

KM: My stance is that given we now have the vaccines and boosters, and many who have caught and had COVID-19 and/or its variants, alongside growing reports that the Omicron variant is “mild”, that we have to learn to live with COVID, like we do flu. The disruption to everyone’s lives, livelihoods and liberty cannot continue.

Those making the decisions that affect our lives so drastically have large taxpayer-funded salaries, big pensions and 100% job security so they do not feel the pain in the way the vast majority of people in the Lincoln area and across the county and across the country do.

TL: You voted in favour of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Do you feel it is the correct precedent to set by putting a limit on people’s right to protest in a democratic state?

KM: Those opposing the Bill for these reasons are primarily the well-off far-left agitators who do not care about the impact their particular demonstrations have on the lives and livelihood of the general public.

It is the fault of the out of touch Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain agitators that the Government has been left with no choice but to restore balance between the right of protests (which I fully support) with the minimising of disruption to the lives of the public. The vast majority of the public support what the Government is doing and I fully support it too.

TL: Can you put the record straight about your failure to properly declare ties to Moonlighting Systems? How did this happen?

KM: As was made clear at the time, I declared my interest in ML Systems Ltd which is the trading name of Moonlighting Systems Ltd from my initial election in 2010. I should have put the latter in the register rather than the former, certainly as the rules and regulations had evolved and I was re-elected and did not seek advice on updating my entry in the Register of Members’ Interests.

As the Parliamentary Commissioner said, my breaches were minor and could be resolved by correcting my entry to the Register of Members’ Interests. This, I have done, and offered to do when the Labour Party and their friends in the online media fraternity decided to make it an issue.

It is worth noting that this was a politically motivated complaint instigated by the Labour Party because they have no policies on anything. I had declared my interest and for 11 years it had not been disguised nor hidden.

TL: Do you think it is fair game for MPs to have consultancy jobs or something similar as a secondary income?

KM: What a weird phraseology to use. I think all MPs, including Labour MPs, should be allowed to have other jobs but only on the basis that it does not interfere with their commitments to their constituents and Parliament, plus of course is also within the rules. It is a matter of balance.

The fact that there has been a spotlight on this is right and proper as it is important to have transparency. I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition, the new Shadow Foreign Secretary and Diane Abbott will now be continuing being paid thousands for their outside ‘second jobs’, or not.

If electors in MPs’ constituencies are not happy with the level of commitment they will vote accordingly I am sure. Maybe the question you might ask is what was declared by Lincoln’s former Labour MP who had both a second and third job at the same time, but made promises that the extra income – gross or net – would be donated to charity. A little bit of journalistic investigation might be refreshing to see. I will not be holding my breath for you or your colleagues to enlighten us all.

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