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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 13:29 GMT
Paul Marsden's week in politics
Paul Marsden, the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham who defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats on Monday, reviews the week in politics for BBC News Online.

After the electric announcement on Monday there followed a whirl of media interviews over the next 48 hours. It was therefore a pleasant shock to attend my first parliamentary party meeting of the Liberal Democrats who discussed more policies in that meeting than I have heard in four and half years of Parliamentary Labour Party meetings.

To be honest it was worst for my wife who had to contend with me moving parties and moving house within the constituency in the same week! I think I had the easier task. She has had to put up with a lot and I am so grateful for her support.

The clear winner is Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats who have another MP that proves we are the popular party of the future, committed to a fair progressive tax system that delivers decent hospitals, schools and more bobbies on the beat.

Quite clearly it is Hilary Armstrong, the Labour chief whip, who felt so worried about her position that she wrote to my local paper to protest about her 'treatment' at the hands of the media!

My new leader Charles Kennedy, after Iain Duncan Smith repeated almost word for word Charles' question on the NHS from last week's prime minister's questions: "If ever there was a case of cash for questions, I should be sending an invoice to the leader of the Conservative Party."

It was a special moment to walk into the House of Commons chamber for prime minister's questions flanked by the two local Liberal Democrat MPs Matthew Green (Ludlow) and Lembit Ípik (Montgomeryshire). I had no idea what to expect and I enjoyed making history sitting behind Charles Kennedy as he demonstrated that it is the Liberal Democrats who are now the effective opposition.

Hundreds of cards, letters and emails in support of me joining the Liberal Democrats with only a handful from Labour supporters who were against.

Continuing to campaign for my constituents for more funding for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, securing the new football ground - the New Meadow - and battling for a train system that runs on time (OK perhaps I'm asking for too much there!). I will also now be able to speak out on issues such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill and civil liberties from within a party that actually encourages free speech!

See also:

10 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Labour MP defects to Lib Dems
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