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
’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
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
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
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.
Researcher for Derek Prag, MEP
Account manager, The Rowland Company
Media relations manager to Susan Kramer