Signs of strains after Liverpool Liberal Democrat leadership challenge
Defeated Liverpool Liberal Democrat leadership challenger Paula Keaveney tried to insist to me last night that the party is not divided.
Forget the fact she challenged Warren Bradley and only lost be three votes, forget that it was the second such challenge in as many years, forget even that the party had lost control of Liverpool council for the first time in 12 years to Labour.
Those things alone would be enough to suggest the the party is divided.
There are some other indicators of the divisions that now rack the official opposition in Liverpool.
To start with it is worth taking a look at part of Cllr Bradley's statement after the leadership vote last night:
"I had a lot to deal with in the last four years, after the fallout between Mike Storey and David Henshaw I had to pick up the pieces.
"So I think it would have been wrong if I had not been given the opportunity to remain as leader."
Mentioning this will be seen by many as a sign of strains between the leader and his one time mentor.
But more fundamentally at the moment the party does not seem able to agree on why it lost the election and how it should move forward.
Some believe the their loss was mainly because of an increased turnout due to the general election being held on the same day as the locals. Which effectively means the party's previous success has been borne out of the fact not as many people normally bother voting in locals.
While that may have been the reality, some wonder whether relying on low turnout can really be seen as a proper election strategy. They believe the high turnout merely accelerated the party's rate of decline that will continue in future elections unless there is a change of strategy.
It is hard to imagine the Liberal Democrats sweeping back into power next year or the year after. Labour won 20 seats earlier this month, those seats will not be in contention until 2014.
I would expect Labour to possibly add five seats to its ranks next year.
The Lib Dems must rebuild if they are to be in a serious position to challenge Labour's control in a couple of years time. But first they need to agree on what went wrong, and how to fix it.