What does the future hold for the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool?

What's going on with the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool?

Until last year this was a flagship Northern council for the party.

Now, with less than a month to go until local elections, it's hard not to conclude the party is close to falling apart.

This week North West Tonight revealed an extraordinary e-mail from Warren Bradley, the leader of the Lib Dem group, to Nick Clegg.

Election losses predicted for Lib Dems

Mr Bradley, who was council leader for six years, is scathing about the coalition and predicts big losses for the party in May.

He urges the party to leave government and sever ties with the Conservatives.

Image source, bbc
Image caption,
Nick Clegg - trying to keep the Lib Dems united

Almost certainly Councillor Bradley is reflecting the views of many voters in Liverpool.

There have been deep cuts to the council's budget, not to mention the scrapping of Building Schools for the Future and housing regeneration cash.

Mr Bradley must be hoping the local party benefits from distancing itself from national government.

Perhaps this might assuage any disappointment he feels after his "private" e-mail to Nick Clegg was leaked.

Certainly when I interviewed Mr Bradley this week, he had no intention of backing down.

A party worth voting for?

There are almost certainly many voters who will agree with him. But what are they likely to do?

Perhaps they will admire this independence and vote for the local party.

But I can't think of any examples where parties have won votes by exposing internal division.

The danger is that voters who agree with Warren Bradley will simply come to the conclusion that the party's not worth voting for.

The pressure of government has affected the party regionally in different ways.

There have been defections in councils including Halton, Rochdale, Liverpool, Manchester and Stockport.

Other Lib Dems feel it's better to passionately argue their case.

This group includes several of Mr Bradley's colleagues who are furious that internal divisions have been exposed in this way.

But perhaps none does it better than the Party President and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron.

And this is what Nick Clegg had to say to me when I interviewed him about his response to the e-mail:

You can read the e-mail from Warren Bradley, the leader of the Lib Dem group, to Nick Clegg here.