Karl McCartney, Lincoln’s Conservative MP, was invited by the politics society to be a guest speaker at the University of Lincoln on Wednesday, January 19th.
The audience were enthusiastic with some wearing masks of the MP with war paint on. They asked McCartney a variety of questions on topics such as his stance on the EU, tax avoidance and banker’s bonuses.
Inevitably the night was dominated by questions about the rise in tuition fees to a possible £9000, which McCartney voted in favour of back in December.
Dan Derricott, the vice president of academic affairs at Lincoln SU, asked whether it is right to charge so much for tuition fees despite 80% cuts to higher education funding. McCartney defended by saying: “The monies raised from students borrowing to pay their tuition fees will go directly to universities so they will have more control over the finances they raise.”
Derricott also said the University of Lincoln would need to charge £7500 in order to break even. However, McCartney reiterated his previous statement that he believes the university is not at risk: “I personally think that Lincoln is a very good university and I don’t think you’ll see any problems as a university, as an entity, attracting the numbers of students that you want to for the foreseeable future and that’s because of the standards that you have at Lincoln.”
McCartney did agree with Derricott that tight regulations put upon international students who want to study in the UK is “not something that I want to see” saying that he has received a letter from the university’s Vice Chancellor about the issue and intends to meet Mary Stuart again to get more details.
Jonathan Holmes, Liberation officer at Lincoln SU, asked for his opinions on the comments from the East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer on Twitter: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?“
McCartney suggested that Helmer worded the tweet cleverly “to perhaps raise the number of people who follow him on Twitter initially.”
“I’m not saying he’s a media whore at all but what I am saying is he does do a lot of things to get a reaction.”
Jo Sams, president of Socialist Students Lincoln, asked if the comments in a letter to Chris Charnley, president of the Students’ Union, meant he does not listen to the concerns of students. The letter said: “I make my own mind up on a variety of issues, and, in my own way, I will always do so regardless of how many students, do or do not vote for me in the future, or have voted for me, or have voted for any General Election candidate, in the past.”
McCartney said that was not about students as a whole but was about what he regarded as “overt threats” in a letter from Charnley.
Instead he would like to see students get involved in local politics themselves: “Basically I was saying if he [Chris Charnley] wants to he can put himself up at the next general election if he feels he’ll get enough votes.
“To be honest with you there are so many students and you are all based in a certain area of the city, I would love you to take part in local politics a little bit more.
“I am sure if you put up a credible student candidate up in the Carholme Ward or one of the other wards where there is a high student density you would have representation on the city council.”
You can listen to the talk in full below (1hr 28minutes):