I had an unexpected experience on Sunday morning, as I was flicking through the channels to see if anything worth watching was on. BBC Parliament was showing the Diversity debate from our Conference last week, and Simon Hughes was on my screen.
Given that I disagree wholeheartedly with Simon's stance on the issue, my finger was lingering on the 'next channel' button, until I caught him saying that he was going to be bringing proposals to the next Federal Executive calling for more quotas, beyond even those called for by the motion being debated.
I do hope not. As the evisceration of the motion demonstrated, Liberal Democrats do not like quotas. It is, however, a sign of Simon's utter disregard for the Federal Constitution of the Party that he can get up and make a speech like that. The selection rules for Parliamentary candidates are, ironically, the responsibility of the State Parties, and whilst the Scottish and Welsh Parties are increasingly following a similar path to the English, they do that of their own volition, not because the Federal Party tells them to. Yes, the Federal Conference can probably instruct the States, but the Federal Executive cannot and should not.
It isn't as though Simon doesn't have form. His appointment of a cohort of Deputy Presidents during his term as Party President was greeted with a degree of derision from those who dislike the granting of pompous titles, and concern from those who actually care about the constitution. The latter group, including myself, wondered whether there was a risk that these arbitrarily appointed individuals might take on extra-constitutional responsibilities and, perhaps, powers.
However one spins it, the Party have again taken a view on the diversity issue. If the movers of last week's motion think that, having lost the argument, they can use Federal Executive to construct a trojan horse for quotas, they are very much mistaken...