Liberal Democrats have denied suggestions they are attempting to draw up an "A-list" of potential parliamentary candidates as leader Menzies Campbell admits the party does not represent 21st century Britain.
Sir Menzies will use the formal opening of his first conference as leader in Brighton today to warn the party has to change in the future - by selecting more women and ethnic minority candidates for Westminster.
A £200,000 fighting fund has been created for those areas rejecting the white male candidate.
"This is a carrot approach, we cannot interfere with the selection process. This is in no way an A-list or a wish-list of candidates," a spokesman said.
Durham City councillor Carol Woods conceded it was time for the party to change demanding more powers for local councils in the process.
Local government was the "nursery" for Westminster politicians, she told The Journal last night, and the more powers local people were able to exercise over their areas, the more people would be encouraged into politics as a whole.
Image though was important, she said. "We do need to change our image, we need to break with the stuffy perception of politicians as middle-aged and middle class and encourage people who have previously thought politics was not the kind of place they'd see themselves in."