The Liberal Democrats are to offer hundreds of thousands of pounds to local party organisations as an incentive to recruit women and ethnic minority candidates to stand for election.
Presently all 63 of the Lib Dems’ MPs are male and white, after the party’s only ethnic minority MP, Parmjit Singh Gill, was defeated at the last general election.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Lib Dem leader, told the party conference that £200,000 was already on offer, but denied accusations that this was a bribe for local party members.
Campbell said the fund was “new money” given to the party specifically to recruit women and people from ethnic minorities to stand for parliament.
“This will have a real impact on our representation at the next election,” he said. “Over the next six months we will be launching initiatives and hosting events that will signal further steps along this path.”
“This is a message for those people who support the Liberal Democrats – and for those who don’t – who think we aren’t serious about getting more women and ethnic minority MPs into parliament. We are,” Campbell added.
The Conservatives have already created an ‘A-list’ of women and ethnic minority candidates to stand in winnable seats at the next election.