LIVERPOOL’S deposed Liberal Democrats have warned that a coalition with the Tories could “wipe us out” in the city.
Senior board members, including leader Warren Bradley, signed up to a letter which pleaded with party leader Nick Clegg to recognise the damage that an “inconceivable” association with the Conservatives could do to the local party.
The plea came hours after the Lib-Dems suffered a crushing defeat in the local elections, losing control of the city to the Labour group, after seeing nine seats fall to Joe Anderson’s group.
Sources told the Daily Post that there are grave concerns that traditionally-left-of-centre Lib-Dem voters could move towards Labour, and leave wards that used to be “rock-solid Tory” seats vulnerable at other end of the spectrum.
In a letter sent to Mr Clegg, the Liverpool Lib-Dem board members claimed that the “rise in turn-out caused a tsunami of Labour votes.”
The letter began: “Dear Nick, the Lib-Dem executive board had discussions this morning about talks you have entered into with the Conservatives.
“While we fully understand you have to undertake these talks, we would have strong reservations about entering into a coalition with the Conservatives.”
Mr Clegg was urged to remember that the Tories had “decimated the city”, and that in the hands of Labour voters the Lib-Dems had lost “nine of our better councillors”.
It added: “Can we ask that dialogue is taken with us prior to a final decision?”
In a letter also sent to Cllr Richard Kemp, the leader of the Lib-Dems on the Local Government Association, the executive board warned it understood “the leadership is speaking to the Tory party. It would be inconceivable to form a coalition government or enter into formal agreement.”
The letter added that such a move would “wipe us out in Liverpool.” The Lib-Dems have made electoral reform a key campaign platform, but some senior local members and campaigners alike, stunned by the disastrous election results, fear a coalition with Labour would not be without risk for the local party’s interests. The letters include a warning that the executive board would have a problem joining forces with Labour as they have “such a nasty team in the city.”
And, prior to the letter, when it became clear in the early hours of Friday morning that if either of the two main parties wanted power they would have to court Clegg, rising city Lib-Dem Cllr Paul Twigger – tipped as a potential leadership candidate – posted “Dear Nick, please do not go into a coalition with either of them” on the internet.
But campaigner Alison Marbrow was more partisan, fuming “If I’d wanted to vote Tory, I’d have voted Tory. Do the right thing, Nick!!”
One senior councillor said: “If you look at the political philosophies, we are light years away from the Tories and their views on some of the big issues are a total anathema to us.”