"All governments are lying cocksuckers, I hope you know that." - Bill Hicks
Tony Blair has played down the defection of a former Labour MP to the Liberal Democrats, but Charles Kennedy has said it is a "pivotal" moment.
Brian Sedgemore announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats, citing the "stomach turning lies" of Tony Blair's government.
The veteran Labour MP, who is standing down at this election after 22 years in parliament, has long been a government critic over anti-terror laws, foundation hospitals, top-up fees and the war in Iraq.
Speaking at a Lib Dem press conference, the former Hackney South and Shoreditch MP said it was time for those on the centre and left of British politics to give Blair a "bloody nose".
"I urge everyone from the centre and left of British politics to give Blair a bloody nose at the general election and vote for the Liberal Democrats," Sedgemore said.
Kennedy welcomed the defection, telling Labour supporters they could vote Lib Dem without allowing the Tories in 'by the back door'.
The prime minister said Sedgemore's decision was "his choice".
And Blair added that the former MP was someone that most people "have never heard of".
Michael Howard joked that the Conservatives had never expected to gain Sedgemore's backing.
"I am very realistic about the things we can and can't hope for in this election," said the Tory leader.
"I do not think that Brian Sedgemore was ever very high on our list of target converts.
"The fact that he has chosen to go to the Liberal Democrats is something we can accept with a fair degree of equanimity."
Sedgemore said his defection had been prompted by growing disagreements with Labour over a range of issues, highlighting the "deeply illiberal" security measures passed by the government.