Elections 16 May 2010 The Lib Dem Tina myth There were alternatives to this full-blown coalition of convenience with the Tories. Print HTML Do you remember Margaret Thatcher's slogan "There is no alternative" (aka "Tina")? In recent days, I've clashed with Liberal Democrat MPs -- from the unconvincing and uncomfortable Simon Hughes to the pompous and prickly Greg Mulholland -- who have pushed the Tina line in order to defend the indefensible: their opportunistic coalition of convenience with Cameron's Conservatives. What else could we have done, bleat the Lib Dems? What was the alternative, they repeatedly ask? As someone who was once a supporter and admirer of the Liberal Democrats, in the pre-Clegg era, let me refer to two of Clegg's more progressive predecessors. Here is Charles Kennedy in today's Observer: I did not subscribe to the view that remaining in opposition ourselves, while extending responsible "confidence and supply" requirements to a minority Tory administration, was tantamount to a "do nothing" response. I felt that such a course of action would have enabled us to maintain a momentum in opposition, while Labour turned inwards. Here is Paddy Ashdown on the Today programme last Tuesday, rubbishing the idea that a Labour/Lib Dem coalition would be unstable: If this was a coalition made up of what you might call the panjandrum elements that you suggest, I would not be in favour of it. It is a coalition made up of Liberal Democrat and Labour in which we would dare the other elements if they wished to vote us down and, I can tell you, I can think of no political circumstances where that would happen. Lib Dem apologists -- like the odious Greg Mulholland and various commenters on this blog -- can get as worked up and outraged as they like. But their own former leaders tell us that alternatives to this Tory/Lib Dem coalition were available: 1) a minority Conservative government relying on "supply and confidence" from the Liberal Democrats, and 2) a Lab-Lib minority coalition governing with the implicit support of the nationalists and others. › Charles Kennedy outs himself as anti the Lib-Con coalition Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12. Subscribe More Related articles Cuts to Short money aren't about balancing the books - they're about killing Labour The Republican nightmare shows no sign of ending What is the New Hampshire primary, and why does it matter?