There has been much debate this week following Charlotte Gore's posting about why she couldn't be a PPC. I was, as someone who has been involved in such things for a fair time now, intrigued.
The Party does have a fairly diverse cast of potential candidates. Adherence to the totality of Liberal Democrat policy has never been a requirement, indeed, most assessors will tell you that the candidate who blithely claims to support all of our policies either wrote them or hasn't read them. Generally speaking, if they oppose an area of policy for reasons supporting by a sufficiently liberal argument, I'm pretty relaxed. After all, being a liberal means having a healthy sense of scepticism about the 'correct' answer.
Being a libertarian or, at least, being on the libertarian wing of the Party clearly doesn't exclude you from being on the approved list, nor does it prevent your chances of being selected to fight a seat. Being a self-confessed white witch doesn't either. Having a past as a glamour model doesn't and being a Eurosceptic can not only allow you to be approved and selected, but can enable you to be elected to Parliament and chair the Party's Joint States Candidates Committee in the days when it had genuine authority.
There is no doubt that having an easily accessible back story can have its advantages and disadvantages, and there have already been incidents where a blog entry has been used against a candidate. With the freedom to publish comes responsibilities and consequences, and if you want to take a stance that, in retrospect might be used against you, you must be prepared to face those consequences in an election environment. Your opponents will be looking for wedges that either separate you from your Party or better still, from the electorate.
However, all that said, opinions that 'mainstream' Liberal Democrats might shy away from are not necessarily vote losers. Pruning back the welfare state, for example, is likely to be quite popular, especially at a time of low unemployment. Attacking the smoking ban in pubs and clubs, and other elements of the nanny state would be liberal (argue that amongst yourselves) if not necessarily Liberal Democrat.
So it actually comes down to having the right skillset, and being willing to adhere to much, not all, of Liberal Democrat policy. If Charlotte thinks that she has those skills, the ability to speak coherently and cogently in public, the ability to work as part of a team, a sound knowledge of policy, some campaigning ability and a willingness to self-declare as a Liberal Democrat, there is no reason why she shouldn't apply for approval.
Of course, being a candidate isn't for everyone...