Karl McCartney


Karl McCartney was the Conservative Lincoln MP between 2010 and 2017. He is now the Conservative candidate for the city for the next general elections.

As any Member of Parliament will tell you, your first speech as a freshly-elected representative in the Chamber of the House of Commons, is an incredibly special occasion, both personally and professionally. This week marks a decade since my Maiden Speech and I can still vividly recall the heady mixture of nervousness, excitement and enormous pride at the prospect of championing the needs of the historic city and constituency of Lincoln. Delivered in front of my family as well as some of my new colleagues, the then Speaker delayed calling me for nearly 4 hours, again – something that a number of backbenchers had to get used to until the end of 2019 – and by then our youngest son of three was taken back to my office to watch daddy on the TV whilst Cordelia, Henry and my proud mother and father watched from the side gallery.

In my speech I paid tribute to the unique and pivotal role Lincoln has played in our nation’s democratic tradition – Edward III presided over a Parliament in our Cathedral and Lincoln is the oldest constituency in continued existence. It is also home to one of only four existing original copies of the Magna Carta, the foundation of British, and therefore world, democracy. Back in 2010 however, little did I know the importance the region would soon play in marking another democratic milestone — by returning the largest leave vote in the country.

But something else I also made clear in my speech, was that despite Lincoln’s historical importance, the city had been left scandalously neglected in terms of key infrastructure — when I was first elected as MP for Lincoln, it was the only city in the country that was not connected to London by a direct, fast train service, and the city was suffocated by entirely inadequate and out-dated internal transport links. Without the ability to ensure people can travel to work on time and safely, and that goods can be moved to where they are needed, the economy of any city suffers. I pledged to champion investment that would bring radical transport infrastructure improvements, and I am proud to say that I have been true to my word. 

One of the first things I did as a Member of Parliament was to seek and secure election to the Transport Select Committee in Westminster — which is responsible for scrutinising government transport spending. Through my position on that committee, my lobbying of ministers and my engagement with businesses and the County Council, I have made real progress in improving Lincoln’s transport network and securing vital investment.

For example, when I came to Lincoln, plans for the much-needed and long-awaited Eastern Bypass project were not just in the relegation zone, they had dropped out of the premiership altogether. But after three years of campaigning, I brought home a hat-trick of support for Lincolnshire County Council’s project; from George Osborne, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Ministers at the Department of Transport. The £150m plus project is now heading towards completion – first talked about so I am told in 1916, it began before 100 years had passed and will be completed in the very near future. Other successes include improvements to our cross-country train services, upgraded level crossings and footbridges other road improvements and a new bus station, and, finally, securing direct, fast trains to London, initially a single daily up and down service, more recently increased to six up and down services a day (now we would like some extra weekend services too).

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney marked the start of the High Street footbridge work with Network Rail Managing Director Phil Verster. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

But infrastructure alone is not enough – a thriving city needs to combine effective transport links with opportunities and education, two causes that are closest to my heart and which I have campaigned tirelessly for in Lincoln – part of the ‘aspiration’ and ‘levelling-up’ or social mobility agenda long before it became fashionable. During my tenure as the city’s MP we have seen the launch of the region’s first University Technical College and the doors open on a multi-million-pound new school building complex at the city academy on Skellingthorpe Road, where I also instigated a career academy for 16-year-olds with business support from across various sectors in the city and surrounding areas – coupled with this I also aided expansion of our two prestigious universities and college; including the first new Engineering School in the UK for 20 years and one of five new medical schools in the UK at the University of Lincoln in 2017, and at BGU worked with the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Muriel Robinson OBE, and her colleague Dame Judith Mayhew, who I had worked for and with back in the 1990s in the City of London, who became the first Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University which was a long established mainly Teacher Training College which has a prestigious past and a great future as a ‘new’ university.

The past ten years have been both a privilege and a learning curve. Perhaps the most profound of these lessons is also tied to one of the most rewarding and important of aspects of an MP’s role – directly helping my constituents. Before becoming a Member of Parliament, despite working for one in the early 1990s, I had not fully appreciated the appalling amount of red tape and bureaucratic inertia that often seems to plague every-day interactions with local authorities especially but also other departments, and government organisations.

Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill, Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, Councillor Richard Davies and Mayor of Lincoln Councillor Brent Charlesworth at the start of the Lincoln East West Link Road in 2014. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

It was, and is, frankly shocking to me that in many cases it takes a buff envelope with a House of Commons Portcullis on it, for constituents to receive the service or what they are entitled to and have already paid for through their taxes. Dealing with local authority and central government departments can at times feel Kafkaesque — and that is as an MP with significant access and ‘power’ – for the average constituent, it must feel like banging one’s head against a brick wall at times. It certainly has done for those who have worked with me in my parliamentary office to help and assist the plethora of my constituents who contact me and their myriad of issues that they raise or are concerned with. Behind the scenes, backbenchers have made their views known to ministers and those who can bring effective and helpful change – we may see that finally in the years to come.

But, perhaps paradoxically, helping people to overcome these obstacles and navigate the unfamiliar corridors of power, are some of the moments of the past decade when I have felt I most effectively fulfilled my responsibilities as an MP. Whether that is with housing, or benefits claims, issues concerning their child’s schooling or wider issues to do with work or their living environment. As a backbencher, there is a certain level of independence that allows you to fight for constituents. I still pinch myself every day that I am able to do this in the House of Commons and that I call Parliament my place of work. Of course I have also in a small way affected various issues or legislation as it has made its way through, or not, the House of Commons on its way to the Statute Book, and at times I hope my arguments have held some sway and made my colleagues think or ponder their own view and eventual voting intention. I have also used effectively the fact that just by being seen and networking in Westminster I have been the city and county’s voice in the ‘corridors of power’- seeking to influence and achieve on behalf of the city and its people who I know and love.

There is another comment I made ten years ago in my Maiden Speech that actually seems likely to finally come to fruition only recently: “Soon, Waddington is due to become the home of the Red Arrows, who are another well-loved and appreciated aspect of Lincoln life, as we are often treated to their practice sessions in the skies above our City.” According to latest reports, the move continues to remain imminent.

I have always said it was, and is, an honour and privilege to be the Member of Parliament for Lincoln — a great, beautiful and historical city. It remains my view today as much as it did 10 years ago. I have done my best to represent all the people of the constituency whether they vote for me, the other candidates, or do not vote at all – whether I was the Member of Parliament or not. 

Conservative’s Karl McCartney was re-elected MP for Lincoln in the General Election 2019. Photo: Sean Strange for The Lincolnite

Social media was in its infancy when I was first elected but has grown in ‘influence’ and I have to say not all of it good. Do not believe everything you see or hear – take the claims of detractors for what they are — I stand by my record of ‘Putting Lincoln First’. I have been saying I would do that for over 15 years and my record shows in my view that I have delivered, and will keep delivering, on making the city and the lives and experiences and opportunities of those that live, work, visit and study here, even better than they already are. 

The last three months have been difficult for many of us, and has shown in the vast majority of cases the best of people, in a few, not so much. Take care and I look forward to the next 10 years and the beneficial changes and improvements and opportunities those years will bring to us all in Lincoln and across the country.

I finish by thanking all those that made possible the above: my family especially, and my friends, those who have worked with and for me and of course those supporters from near and far who have helped, campaigned, promoted and advocated my tenure as the Member of Parliament for this amazing and beautiful city, and of course those who voted for me, especially the ones who have done it five times – thank you all!

Karl McCartney was the Conservative Lincoln MP between 2010 and 2017. He is now the Conservative candidate for the city for the next general elections.

December 25, 2019 11.37 am This story is over 30 months old

I wish to send everyone in Lincoln, Bracebridge Heath, Skellingthorpe and Waddington a warm Christmas message as the bitingly cold December air is now fresh and clean like a new broom after the early Christmas present on 12th December at the General Election that brought positivity back to the city and country — and last Friday we voted with an overwhelming majority in Parliament to ‘get Brexit done.’

I have delivered successes for our city – notably Lincoln’s many transport improvements. Crucially, when I was last the city’s Member of Parliament, I secured funding for the East-West Link Road in the centre of Lincoln, the Eastern Bypass (talked about since 1916 I am told), campaigned for dualing sections of the Western Bypass and alleviating a wide range of bottleneck and pinch-point issues with improvements to roads in Lincoln. I also helped secure more direct trains to London, improved cross-country train services, especially at weekends connecting Lincoln to the rest of the East Midlands, and secured two level crossing footbridges in the city centre, on the High Street and at Brayford Pool.

So my review of the year is perhaps going back some years, but as I resume my tenure as the city’s Member of Parliament I can promise more of the same, and if you are wondering perhaps what are my New Year’s resolutions: simply, I want to help make Lincoln THE best place to live, work, visit and study.

I would like to do this by working with the city and county councils (or any body that replaces them) and partner agencies, if still in place, to further regenerate and improve our city and its place as the gateway to our county and the East Midlands when we look outwards. I will work to secure the best possible town deal and secure Lincoln’s fair share of the £25m funding – replicating what I secured for the Castle, the Cathedral, for the East-West Link and the new bus station and a plethora of projects across our constituency to benefit all who live, work study and visit this most beautiful part of our great nation.

I will continue to work with local businesses to bring top quality jobs and opportunities to the city and with improving schools and colleges to ensure our young people have the skills necessary to benefit from those jobs. That is why I will also continue organising my job fairs to give everyone with skills and experience the opportunity to talk directly to employers and training organisations. I will also continue to work with the University of Lincoln (and BGU) so that the new £21m medical school attracts the medical students and staff of the future. That is key to ensuring these future doctors and nurses choose to work in our NHS in Lincolnshire and are retained.

While I am delighted that I was successful in lobbying for direct train services to London, I know that Lincoln deserves more. That is why I will continue to work hard to achieve even more improvements so we can benefit from everything our country has to offer.

But it’s not just trains to the capital that we need, our local transport infrastructure needs co-ordinated improvement. I will work with the district and county councils, developers and local businesses to make sure our roads, cycle routes and footpaths make travelling in and around the city quicker, safer and less stressful. This in my mind can be achieved with an all encompassing park and ride system, modelled on other successful systems in other UK cities, and is a solution I have promoted since 2004.

We are moving forward as a majority Conservative government with Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister and I look forward to resuming that work as we head towards 31st January and after we leave the EU as the country voted too, 3.5 years ago.

But for now my family and I look towards the future with a positive and bright disposition and I fully expect our country to thrive and prosper as we leave the EU and continue to trade with our friends in Europe and across the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.

We do wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2020!

Karl, Cordelia, Henry, Freddie, (plus Sophie and Roxy, Pusscat and Tiger)

Karl McCartney was the Conservative Lincoln MP between 2010 and 2017. He is now the Conservative candidate for the city for the next general elections.

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