PROFILE: Charlotte Barraclough, PRO for Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate - Going hand in hand into the unknown/Charlotte Barraclough will raise her own profile as she boosts her client

Charlotte Barraclough has something in common with her new boss, Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. You probably haven’t heard of either of them.

Charlotte Barraclough has something in common with her new boss,

Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. You

probably haven’t heard of either of them.



’Susan is not well known, and she will acknowledge that. But she has the

right background to do the job,’ Barraclough agrees.



The same could certainly be said of Barraclough, who took up her role as

media relations manager at the beginning of November.



’Spending five and half years at Rowland means she has certainly earned

her spurs,’ says Jonathan Hopkins, the director at Rowland who heads up

the public affairs team where Barraclough worked. ’Now she’s found the

ideal job to put them into practice.’



A long-held interest in politics led Barraclough to become a researcher

for MEP Derek Prag early in her career. She went on to the European

Commission, working on campaigns for lifelong learning, against racism

and on health and safety at work. After a stint at the French Embassy,

working for the technology press bureau, Barraclough joined The Rowland

Company.



’When I came back from Luxembourg I wanted to get more involved with

politics,’ she says. That involvement has stepped up in the past two or

three years, with Barraclough standing for local election in Vauxhall,

although she claims she has no real ambitions to go into politics

herself, preferring to stay behind the scenes.



Barraclough grew up in Buckinghamshire, but now sees her place firmly in

London. She feels passionately about the issue of transport in the

capital, giving up her car five years ago and buying a scooter and a

pushbike instead. ’A car just isn’t necessary for a single person

getting around London,’ she insists. ’A combination of the scooter,

taxis and public transport is fine.’



Barraclough describes herself as a Europhile, and says that it was the

Lib Dems’ positive stance on Europe that drew her to the party. She has

lived in a number of European cities: aside from Brussels and

Luxembourg, she has lived in Paris, Vienna, and Krasnodar, a town in

southern Russia.



It was while studying Russian at Durham University that Barraclough went

to Russia for three months, at a time when the country had yet to shrug

off its communist regime. ’It was just at the point when glasnost was

starting to happen,’ she recalls. ’Our contact with locals was very

limited, officially, and our passports said we were only allowed to be

in Krasnodar.’



So which is her favourite city?



Barraclough considers the question carefully before answering, very

diplomatically: ’All of them, for different reasons. Paris is beautiful,

Brussels was fun and it was fascinating to see the politics at work,

Luxembourg because of the job and the team I worked with, and Krasnodar

- well, it was such an amazing experience.’



Back in the UK, the task for Barraclough between now and 4 May, when the

election is held, is straightforward enough: ’raise Susan’s profile and

highlight her main messages’.



Voters can find Kramer’s top three priorities at the bottom of a pint -

the team has already had beer mats printed with the appropriate slogans:

’Rescuing our tube, buses and trains with City investment, reducing

crime with more community police, revitalising communities and high

streets all across London.’



Of course Barraclough insists that Kramer is in with a chance to

win.



But with potential opponents including high-profile names such as

Jeffrey Archer, Ken Livingstone, Glenda Jackson and Frank Dobson, the

Kramer camp has an uphill struggle ahead.



Barraclough is unfazed at the prospect that by 5 May she could well be

looking for a new job. ’I’ll have got so much experience, it builds on

my skills and it’s such a marvellous thing to do,’ she says with a

confident smile. ’I can’t see there being much of problem.’



’The hard task will be to make Kramer stand out in a way that’s not too

gimmicky,’ Hopkins observes. ’It’s about making people smile while they

think, ’that’s clever’.’



The line between gimmick and effective publicity is a fine one, and with

Kramer’s adoption of a kitten that she has named ’Whittington’, it might

be one that has already been breached. Barraclough diplomatically says

the kitten will be a ’great asset’ to the campaign.



Whether Barraclough proves herself to be an asset to Kramer’s campaign

should be easy enough to measure by May. It will depend on whether the

name of Kramer is as well known to London voters as those of Archer,

Livingstone, Jackson and Dobson.



HIGHLIGHTS

1990

Researcher for Derek Prag, MEP

1994

Account manager, The Rowland Company

1999

Media relations manager to Susan Kramer



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