When I was the first woman to speak in the Meeting the Challenge debate at autumn conference, after 14 men (I know, I was counting again!) I had to ask delegates if they noticed anything different about me. Afterwards someone admitted that until I said anything he hadn't noticed.
So I was encouraged to attend the EMLD fringe on Saturday where Simon Woolley from Operation Black Vote gave us a bit of a roasting. Clearly those there were committed to seeing our party develop in diversity, but the message must get out further than just the committed few. Norman Lamb and Simon Hughes, two real champions for the cause, both attended and spoke encouragingly about their commitment and desire to see change. Despite my concerns about the administration of the Diversity Fund, I hope that will go some way to increasing diversity in our parliamentary party. However, we must also recognise the work that needs to be done at grass roots level. As well as a fund to support parliamentary candidates what about a fund to support BME and women members to be able to attend conferences?
Sorry, slightly sidelined there. Another highlights for me was the Q&A with Nick Clegg and the debate on crime, disappointingly none of the working group members got called to speak but I did get a mention in Graham Tope's speech, which I hope was evidence that I am not always critical of the party (a sin I have apparently been charged with!).