The World According To... Tony Banks MP

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The Independent Culture
Tony Banks, 61, will be leaving Parliament at the next election after serving 22 years as a Labour MP. From 1997 to 1999, he was the Minister for Sport. He lives in east London with his wife Sally

What inspired you to become a politician?

It was to stop me saying, "Someone ought to do something about this".

What has disappointed you most about politics?

Not being able to do much about it. I will have done over 22 years come the next election, and after 22 years, I think it's time to let someone younger and full of energy come on and have their try.

Who is your favourite sportsperson?

Jimmy Greaves.

What is your favourite football chant?

I don't have one. I sit there nervously huddled waiting for something horrible to happen. I don't chant.

What has been your most valuable life lesson?

This is easy. How vile human beings are as a species. If you look around at the enormous suffering that human beings inflict upon themselves, on other species and on the planet generally, you've got to come to the conclusion that, somewhere, nature went wrong. No doubt she will correct her error in due course.

Foxes are...

Worthy of respect.

How would you most like to be remembered?

I won't be. There's no way that I'll be remembered any more than many other politicians will be. I've studied enough political history to know that most people aren't even a footnote in history.

Is honesty the best policy?

Only to the point where a lie is less cruel than being honest. I mean, what would you tell Quasimodo?

What is Britain's best tradition?

Our democracy. Without any doubt. Our worst is our negativism, the way we always undersell ourselves.

Tell us a secret about Tony Blair

He is the most radical prime minister in the past 100 years. The changes that he has brought about, and is bringing about, to the constitution are, to all intents and purposes, irreversible, and so the resonances will go down the decades, if not the centuries. Economic and social policies are easily reversed - they're just the fashions of the day - but you live with constitutional changes for years to come.

Which new sport should be included in the Olympics?

Chess. When I was sports minister, I advanced ballroom dancing, darts and chess to be in the Olympics.

In whose life would you most like to spend a day?

Julia Roberts's husband.