Another diversity motion, another failure, would be my pithy summation of today's debate.
I have never been happy about quotas, preferred status or all-anything shortlists, and I had already made my concerns known. The late withdrawal of the paragraph requiring two all-BAME shortlists in winnable seats went some way to addressing those concerns, and what was left, while it had serious flaws, was a genuine response to perceived failings.
Unfortunately, the golden rule of achieving radical change was overlooked - you need to build a coalition. Getting Simon Hughes to speak for you and implying that opposition is a vote against the BAME community is not enough. EMLD failed yet again to engage with key individuals and groups. There was no attempt to talk to returning officers and candidate committee chairs, no attempt to test opinion, no sense of compromise until it was too late. Even then, it shouted "our way or the highway, brooking little or no dissent from those BAME activists who disagree.
Liberal Youth's amendment, removing all the proposed actions that aren't already in place, was purist in nature but liberal in intent. I wasn't in favour of the second element, arbitrary in nature, inaccurate in fact and unachievable in timing. It is a sign of EMLD's failure to establish a credible case that it was passed anyway.
Given the butchered state of the motion as finally passed, it is as though the past four and a half years had never happened. There have been some bright spots. The appointment of a National Diversity Advisor, the creation of a Diversity Unit, a dedicated post for dealing with minority and specialist media and, above all, the Next Generation Initiative, are genuinely positive steps. But we need real action across the board, with more people with more knowledge brought into the network.
I have been contacted by a number of individuals, women and BAME, who think that my experience may be of use to them. Apart from being flattered, I am delighted to be able to make a small contribution towards helping them to make the breakthrough. Success as a candidate is dependent on talent, but also being in the right place at the right time, and seizing the opportunities when they come. A bit of information, well-applied, will make that easier.
Finally, we are where we are. All of us, if we're serious about establishing a diverse party at every level, need to do our bit, and fast. Selections in winnable seats will start, and unless we are ready, they will slip by, leaving us to play catch-up with lead shoes on. There simply isn't time to lose...