Lib Dem backlash from the North against coalition
So it's a tough message for Nick Clegg from the North East, with senior and respected Lib Dems calling for a rethink on how the coalition is handled. It comes after a string of losses, including control of Newcastle City Council.
Lib Dem peer John Shipley, former leader of Newcastle council, said there was "no mood" in the party to quit the coalition, saying: "We are in it for the long-term because it is for the benefit of the county."
But he added: "Liberal Democrat ministers are going to have to stiffen up on some policy matters.
"We saw the NHS, the forests, poor legislation coming through Parliament which has had to be changed and I just think we need to be much firmer as a party in Government what we will support."
The respected party figure also said: "We need to improve our communication between our grassroots and those who lead us in Government."
Gateshead Lib Dem councillor Ron Beadle, his party's Parliamentary candidate in Newcastle North last year, said it had been a "grievous mistake" to go into coalition with the Tories. He held onto his Low Fell seat by just 148 votes.
"Tory voters are getting what they voted for and Lib Dem voters have not got what they voted for. It is important for the left of the Lib Dems to fight for the future of the party," he said.
Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said it was always going to be a "difficult" a year into a coalition making tough decisions tackling the national deficit - but insisted his party would not walk away from that responsibility.
But he added: "Lib Dems in the coalition will want to make clear the areas we are making a real difference to coalition policies to what the Conservatives would otherwise have done."
Redcar's Lib Dem MP Ian Swales echoed those comments and said there no mood to topple Mr Clegg as leader, although discussions about "communication" strategy were underway.
"We have to be proud to be a separate party with separate ideas and making sure we get that across while at the same time we continue to work with the Conservatives for the duration of this Parliament, which is what we are doing," said Mr Swales.
On the AV defeat, he said many people wanted electoral reform and that "questions" had to be asked about the yes and no campaigns. "But we do accept the result and move on," said Mr Swales.
He added Tories appeared to be coming out better of local elections because they had little Northern representation, leaving Lib Dems to suffer an anti-coalition backlash.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle North, said: "North East Lib Dem voters feel betrayed and didn't vote for a Tory-led coalition."
And while the coalition would hold, the Newcastle Central MP said it would now be more like "a broken marriage".