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Rosemary Susan Barnes, née 'Allen, usually known as Rosie Barnes, (born 16 May 1946) is a British charity organiser and former politician. She became nationally known when she won a by-election in 1987 for the Social Democratic Party.

Contents

Early life

Rosie Barnes was born in Nottingham and educated at Bilborough Grammar School in that city and at the University of Birmingham, where she graduated in Social Sciences and History in 1967. The same year she married Graham Barnes, who was later to become an accountant and investment company director. They have two sons and one daughter. After briefly becoming a teacher, she worked as a freelance market research consultant.

Political activity

Having been a Labour voter, although not a member, when the Social Democratic Party was formed in 1981 she and her husband joined it as founder members because they were opposed to the Labour Party's leftward move. She served on the Council for Social Democracy from 1982 as the delegate from Greenwich, and was an SDP candidate in Woolwich in the Inner London Education Authority elections in May 1986.

Parliamentary candidature

She was selected as SDP candidate for Greenwich in December 1986 after the previous candidate stood down, saying he did not want to be a "paper candidate" because the local SDP had decided to concentrate its efforts on keeping John Cartwright's seat in Woolwich. On Christmas Eve 1986, the Labour MP for the constituency (Guy Barnett) died, precipitating a by-election. The local Labour Party selected a left-wing candidate, and the Greenwich by-election held in February 1987 saw a deluge of canvassers, including many members of the Liberal Party, come from near and far to help her win the seat. Her husband, who was an SDP local councillor in Greenwich, acted as her agent at the subsequent 1987 general election 4 months later.

National figure

Becoming a political star at the general election by virtue of her 'non-partisan' appeal, the SDP decided to use her prominently in its campaign. She was shown in soft focus in a Party political broadcast teaching her son the way to stroke a rabbit, an appearance which was heavily ridiculed. She retained her seat with a lower majority. After the election, with the SDP split over whether to merge with the Liberal Party, Rosie Barnes strongly supported David Owen in his resistance to merger. Her closeness to Owen led to her nickname "Rosie Groupie" in Private Eye.

Role in SDP

Rosie Barnes became a member of Owen's 'continuing' SDP, but when the party was disbanded in 1990, she sat in Parliament as an Independent Social Democrat'. In the 1992 general election she was not supported by the local Liberal Democrats (who nevertheless did not nominate a candidate against her), and she lost her seat to Nick Raynsford of the Labour Party.

After Parliament

After leaving politics she became a charity director, first for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaeocologists at Birthright (which she re-named WellBeing) and currently as Chief Executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which she joined in 1996.

References

  • Parliamentary Profiles A-D by Andrew Roth (Parliamentary Profiles Ltd, London, 1988) ISBN 0-900582-27-8
  • [1]

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Guy Barnett
Member of Parliament for Greenwich
19871992
Succeeded by
Nick Raynsford
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