Karl McCartney, Conservative PPC for Lincoln

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney has said he doesn’t fear a backlash from students after voting to increase the cap on tuition fees to £9,000.

Speaking to Siren FM show City Vibe, McCartney said: “Do I fear it? No, because if I did I’d be scared in to voting a different way yesterday.”

He said: “I would hope by [the next general election] they would have seen that I’ve voted in the best interest of the city that I represent.”

McCartney voted in favour of higher fees and claims “it wasn’t an easy decision” but that it’s “the choice that had to be made, but I made that choice and I’m very happy to have done so.”

Asked whether he has turned his back on his constituents, as the city contains two universities, he said: “No, not at all. Like I’ve said before I represent all the people in Lincoln… It’s not right that students should expect taxpayers who are taking the economic hits [to pay for their education].

“I know how important the university and the college is to Lincoln and the city and to the wellbeing of the city… I’m well aware of the benefits that Lincoln as a city has through having the educational institutions in the city and I wouldn’t like to see that harmed in any way and I don’t think this is.”

However, the University of Lincoln has been highlighted as “high risk” and Bishops Grosseteste as “very high risk” due to the changes of funding in a UCU report published this week.

McCartney did not dismiss the report completely, but said: “There are various assumptions in that report that don’t stand up to scrutiny”.

He said that he thought the university was not at risk of closure due to funding cuts, he “can’t see circumstances that would bring that unfortunate occurrence to be”.

“The university’s got in place various strategies that are going to see it through what is obviously a turbulent time,” he said, adding that it is in a good place to “flourish” when the economy improves.

With the current occupation at the University of Lincoln, McCartney said “it can be” effective as a form of protest, joking that “they picked a comfortable area” to do it. He recalled how as a student he joined a sit in to get their library to open longer hours – and with the support of the principal, “it worked.”

McCartney is critical of the violence incidents at the London protests, saying: “It’s completely despicable, obviously as many in my party and in government have said, we live in a democracy and people’s right to protest is there – but that’s the right to protest peacefully and in a way that accords with the laws of this land.”

He sympathises with the police as they “had to put up with bad behaviour and I think did an incredible job under difficult circumstances”.

The police tactics used weren’t too aggressive, in his opinion: “When that peaceful protest turns in to violence, and violence against the person as well as violence against buildings and property then I think the police have every right to respond, if you like — in kind, but appropriately.

“If people can complain that police were using their batons, well if you go for a peaceful protest you don’t go armed with snooker balls – you don’t go wearing ski hats or snowboarding hats – you don’t go armed with various other types of weapons, and you certainly don’t attack people, police or police horses.”