Six months on from the December 2019 General Election, Karl McCartney reflects on the night he was re-elected as Lincoln’s Conservative Member of Parliament, and the unprecedented situation that has beset our nation in recent months.
It is hard to believe that six months have already passed since the General Election in the late Autumn of last year. Christmas really does seem like a long time ago.
I still vividly remember the evening, the campaign and the Count. I was with my wife and family during the day and evening, and as the Exit Poll was released at 10pm, a poll which showed devastating losses for the Labour Party, it also gave us further cause to hope for a potential and probable chance of re-taking the Lincoln seat from Labour.
I have put my family over many years through various election campaigns which can be hard mentally and physically – for all of us —whether winning or losing, and I have done both, and so to be with them for much of our positive campaign and election day was heartening.
Later I joined some members of my team, supporters and friends at the Count, held at a different location than usual, and certainly less tribal as local City Councillors were limited to attending as guests, rather than as traditionally, ‘by right’.
We were victorious, with the largest majority I have ever had. I firmly believe that is due to the work myself and my team had done in the constituency over seven and a half years as the Member of Parliament, and also the Brexit stance we took. Feedback on the doorstep had always been largely positive, with over 20,000 pieces of casework having been handled to date on behalf of constituents. We deal with everyone who emails, calls or writes to us and do not differentiate whoever they voted for – or even if they do not vote – all are equal as constituents and I will maintain that level of service as long as I have the honour and privilege to serve the people of the Lincoln constituency as their Member of Parliament.
I have always enjoyed being in the constituency of Lincoln, meeting people who live and work across the constituency, helping people, and working to improve the lives and experiences for our communities. I hope that comes across and as I have also always maintained, I aimed, and still aim, to ‘Put Lincoln First’ – and that is whether you live, work, visit or study in Lincoln – I am trying to do the best for all of us. In this regard I have continued in the last six months, despite the lockdown, to improve the experiences and opportunities for all of those in our City and will continue to do so.
I hope to maintain and enhance the opportunities and employment choices for all, especially young people, who are as lucky as me to be involved with one of the most beautiful, traditional and well-loved Cities in the world.
When I was first re-elected, I thought perhaps the next few weeks and months in Parliament would be dominated by all matters Brexit. The first week was, and I was happy that our first vote that week was to do what we promised, and occasionally since then Brexit as a subject has been raised, but even before mid-March many of us on the Government Benches had moved on to other issues such as education, training, job opportunities and retention and promoting our constituencies on the national and international stage.
But all of that has been pushed, in the main, from the political and news agenda by the unprecedented pandemic which we have all been living through. The last few weeks and months have been challenging for everyone and many people are still worried about what the future will bring. For many, the loss of a relative or friend is a reality of the recent events and they are all in our prayers. Those who have been on the front line during the recent months, and many who have carried on working in their roles or have volunteered to do more, of course have our gratitude and praise too.
Locally, I will continue to campaign on issues such as transport and parking improvements – as some of you will know I have been promoting a comprehensive Park and Ride system for over 15 years.
This is just one area of town centre investment and support for local businesses which the Town Fund and other funding might address, along with regard to some city centre landlords and their unhelpful business models, and more support for our vital public services, NHS and social care – including fighting to retain and improve the level of services and infrastructure at Lincoln Hospital – despite what other Lincolnshire politicians with their own axes to grind might say behind closed doors.
I have also again been elected to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, and within the Parliamentary Conservative Party I have again been elected by my peers to the 1922 Executive, I also have been happy, and proud, to accept the invitation by the new Speaker to be one of the Members of the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission. I have a sneaking suspicion it maybe as I was one of those with direct personal experience of their inexcusable politically-biased behaviour in recent years.
It has been a fraught and unexpected first half of this year in Parliament, and although it was pleasant to spend Christmas as the Member of Parliament for Lincoln again — there has been little respite since October of last year. So whilst I have enjoyed spending more time at home and in the City as an MP in the last four months, than in all the years I had previously been the Member of Parliament, it has been a different type of busy. My colleagues and I have locally dealt with different but no less pressing and continuous issues and assistance requirements for constituents and business owners and operators alike during lockdown, seeking and offering advice on a plethora of issues and helping and assisting in a myriad of ways.
Do continue to take care and stay alert and as ever please do contact me if you have any issues or thoughts on improvements to be made across our City and County – it is always good to hear from people.