Last night, representatives from many local Lib Dem constituency parties across the region went to Newcastle Civic Centre for a seminar about finding local council candidates. This is an initiative from the Government which is funding programmes like this in all the mainstream political parties. ALDC are enabling this within our party.
The intention is to broaden the base of people willing to become candidates, and in particular to get more women, ethnic minorities and younger working people - in fact, anyone who isn't like me and the majority of people present last night: a 50 to 70 year old white male. We were forced to challenge our own assumptions and the way in which we recruit and approve of candidates for local government and to realise that these people generally don't just step forward, they have to be found, courted and asked, and then asked again several times, before they'll say yes.
The Leader and Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, two of the most powerful Liberal Democrats in the country, played a full part in the seminar, which shows how seriously our party is taking this agenda.