This is the latest in my occasional series about those whom I consider to be “deadhead MPs”. The lucky politico this time is Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln 2010-2017.
I would not usually bother with someone who is no longer an MP and who is very unlikely to be returned to the House of Commons. In McCartney’s case, I have decided to make an exception. The reason is because McCartney’s combination of brash overconfidence, unpleasantness, personal moneygrabbing and expenses blodging, lack of interest in the poorer part of society and unimpressive academic and work background is now, and has become, over the past decades, almost typical of MPs (and by no means only on the Conservative side of UK System-politics). That such people can become MPs is an indictment of the selection and election procedures in place in the UK.
Lincoln is considered to be an “ultra-marginal” and a “swing seat”. In 2010, McCartney and the Conservatives won with 37.5% of the votes cast, as against 35.2% for Labour and 20.2% for the LibDems (BNP 3%, UKIP 2.2%, English Democrats 1.3% and an Independent on 0.5%).
In 2015, McCartney was re-elected: Con 42.6%, Lab 39.6%, UKIP 12.2%, LibDem 4.3%, TUSC 0.7%, Lincolnshire Independent 0.6%. The key points were the collapse of the LibDem vote by 16 points, the non-appearance of the BNP and English Democrats, and the rise of UKIP —by 10 points, though that was modest bearing in mind that the BNP and EDs did not stand. Both Con and Lab increased their percentages.
In 2017, the result was Lab 47.9%, Con 44.7%, UKIP 2.6%, LibDem 2.6%, Green 1.2%, and two Independents (0.6%, 0.3%). A pattern seen in many constituencies: UKIP slumping back to a 2010 or pre-2010 level and the LibDems failing to recover from the 2015 debacle and indeed slipping further. While the Con vote percentage did slightly increase –2 points– in 2017, Lab did far better–8 points higher. That despite the UKIP slump, despite McCartney favouring Leave/Brexit, despite the appearance of a Green candidate likely to impact the Labour vote. It is hard to escape the view that the Con loss was the result of popular judgment on McCartney himself.
McCartney was exposed from 2010-2017, in various ways, as unsuitable.
A lecturer at the University of Lincoln blamed McCartney’s laziness and complacency for the loss (see Notes, below) and was too polite to mention McCartney’s alleged porn-trawling (though that was, admittedly, in 2014), his employment of his wife at £50,000 a year via Parliamentary expenses, or his expenses generally.
“On 28 February 2013 McCartney apologised to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) for the content of notes he had sent to staff. The notes were described by IPSA Chief Executive, Andrew McDonald as ‘abusive’, ‘offensive’ and ‘condescending’. McCartney’s apology stated, “I apologise unreservedly to IPSA for my comments” [Wikipedia]. and
“The following month he claimed that IPSA’s incompetence had forced MPs from all parties to borrow money and that he had had to ask his parents for financial assistance. McCartney also said that he had been told by a “senior IPSA official” that the organisation intended to “damage MPs as much as possible,” a claim that IPSA said was “wild ..simply untrue.” [Wikipedia].
An idea of McCartney’s character can also be gained from the Twitter exchange printed in a local newspaper: https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/lincoln-news/bitter-row-breaks-out-twitter-1447360
The readers’ comments section under that newspaper report was harsh:
“Poor old Karl. He really needs to wipe away those tears and get on with his life. He is an arrogant, rude and bitter loser. And they are his good points. Lincoln and the Conservatives are better off without him. Ignore him Karen.”
“Happiest day last year was when he walked away in a huff and refused to speak to anyone or congratulate at the election result which pretty much summed everything up.”
As to what McCartney is doing now, I think that the answer may be “very little”. I notice that, as I write this piece, around 1800 hrs, he has already tweeted or retweeted 29 times today, so far. His website seems to say that he will be the Conservative candidate at the next general election. It is hard to know why. One can only speculate as to why the local Conservatives have chosen him. He was a lay magistrate at one time; he is a Freeman of the City of London (see Notes, below), having “worked with”, his website claims, more than one Lord Mayor in the late 1990s. Freemason? I do not know.
McCartney obviously did pretty well financially in his 7 years as MP: salary of (then) about £70,000 pa, and wife’s salary (paid out of his expenses claimed) £50,000 pa; also possible other (outside) sources of income (I do not know about this). His overall expenses alone over his time as MP totalled well over a million pounds. He does not appear to have a job at present (there is nothing mentioned on his website); perhaps his wife has found another job, now that her well-paid work as her husband’s assistant has gone.
Readers of The Lincolnite (online newspaper) were as harsh as those commenting on Lincoln Live (above):
“A totally useless MP, more concerned about himself and his expenses than he ever was about Lincoln – amazed that they’ve reselected this waste of space.
John Bercow (Speaker, House of Commons) summed him up nicely with this in a parliamentary debate when McCartney let himself (and us) down yet again:
“Mr McCartney, calm yourself. Be quiet, young man. We do not need to hear from you. You add nothing and you subtract from the proceedings.”
Then there were the abusive notes (for which he had to apologise) he sent to the parliamentary expenses staff when they queried his expenses.”
What are McCartney’s chances of getting back as Lincoln’s MP? Very slight. I have blogged elsewhere about the impact of Brexit Party (and slightly revived UKIP) on the Conservative vote, assuming that Brexit Party contests a general election. That alone would sink the Conservatives in an ultra-marginal such as Lincoln.
Another point is that present Labour MP, Karen Lee, who worked in shops for years before spending 14 years as an NHS nurse, still puts in some shifts at a local hospital, donating her NHS earnings to charity! What a contrast to greedy, moneygrasping and “entitled” McCartney! His work in the City of London in the 1990s was obviously so unimportant that even his own website says almost nothing about it (neither does he seem to have done much outside Con politics in the decade up to his election in 2010).
In addition to all that, Karen Lee is local in origin, whereas McCartney was born in Birkenhead, “Murkyside” (Merseyside), and was educated there and in Wales.
Well, there you are. My latest “deadhead MP”, who is hoping to resume his place at the trough soon. Over to you, voters of Lincoln…
Note re. “Freeman of the City of London”:
“In England, the most established borough freedom is that conferred by the Freedom of the City of London, first recorded in 1237. This is closely tied to the role and status of the livery companies. From 1835, the freedom “without the intervention of a Livery Company” has been bestowed by a general resolution of Common Council, by “redemption” (purchase), at one time for an onerous sum. Now the Freedom can be obtained by servitude, by patrimony, by nomination, or by presentation via a Livery Company. Freedom through nomination by two sponsors is available for a fee (known as a “fine”) of £100, but is free to those on the electoral roll of the City.” [Wikipedia]
Update, 1 May 2019
I am writing this update just after 1400 hrs. McCartney took to Twitter today at about 0600 and, by my reckoning, has, in the intervening 8 hours, tweeted or retweeted at least 52 times (I think that I have left out a few retweets). Quite a few of his tweets and retweets seem to be about “anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party. McCartney must have been part of the “Friends of Israel” crowd (like 80% of “Conservative” MPs). He obviously wants to remain (((onside))). I have no idea whether Lincoln’s deadhead former MP actually has a job at present. I doubt it. He seems an extremely unpleasant person either way.
Update, 18 July 2019
In the article above, written for The Lincolnite (local online newspaper), McCartney again obsesses about “anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party, saying that Labour peers have raised the issue again. Well, about 50 or 60 have, out of 179…
I wonder whether the voters of Lincoln share McCartney’s obsession with speaking out in favour of the Jewish lobby? I doubt it! As for the rest of his article, the Lincolnite needs a sub-editor to correct spelling errors (“buses” is right, “busses” is not) and grammar.
Some of the few readers’ comments on the above article have been unkind: