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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: TONY BANKS MP SEPTEMBER 15th, 2002
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DAVID FROST: Well as you see Tony Banks is here, the former Sports Minister who threw his hat into the ring this week as we heard earlier, for the job of Mayor of London. Now is this something that's always been an ambition of yours?
TONY BANKS: Well a number of reasons, I mean I want to stand as the Labour candidate for mayor, that's the first important obstacle that has to be overcome. A number of reasons, I mean I actually was the person who first put forward the idea of a directly elected mayor for London, I did that in a Bill in the House of Commons in 1990 and it was, it wasn't actually universally acclaimed at the time but I obviously have some feeling about the way the office of mayor should run and it isn't running in the way that I envisaged.
DAVID FROST: Alright start with congestion charges, you are unsure about them? But would you keep them on if they were running when you took office.
TONY BANKS: Well I mean it's very hypothetical but let's assume the obstacles have been overcome and I become the mayor. Well first of all I'm not altogether certain we'll still have a congestion charge. I hope that if Ken sees it doesn't work it'll get scrapped. But I don't think that this is what should have been done in the first term of office, I mean it really isn't a congestion charge at all, it's road taxing, it's road pricing, it's actually saying if you can afford to come into London you can carry on congesting the city, if you can't well that's tough. I actually think it deals with the symptoms rather than the causes. The causes of congestion need to be addressed and of course that's about the state of London Underground and of London Transport generally, the state of the roads and other aspects. So I think we're treating symptoms and we're doing it in a way that penalises the poorer driver rather than the richer driver.
DAVID FROST: And so you'd rather do things like a ban on all but essential users in parts of central London or a, a tax on company, company car spaces?
TONY BANKS: That in my opinion would be fairer, I mean you know what I've got to do is to sort of start laying out some alternatives and if I become the Labour candidate then in the 18 months or so up to the election I will then start laying out some alternatives because I think there are genuine alternatives that need to be looked at for all of these particular areas and I don't honestly believe that the congestion charge is the way to deal with the problem of congestion in London.
DAVID FROST: How many marks would you give Ken for his stewardship so far?
TONY BANKS: Well I mean I've known Ken for a long time, I'm disappointed that we haven't made the progress in London that quite frankly I believe Londoners want to see made. I mean there's a lot of dissatisfaction about the slow rate of progress that exists in London. Now they're not all down to Ken's door but the fact is that you know London Transport has been under-invested for decades. But quite frankly Ken's not making the progress that perhaps Londoners who voted for him expected that he would be making.
DAVID FROST: And you think you can get on better with the government than he can, in getting extra powers or extra money?
TONY BANKS: Well I don't think I can get on better than Ken, I know I can get on with, better than Ken. I mean there's an enormous amount of baggage as you would well imagine, I mean there is no climate of trust between the Mayor and the government. I mean you wouldn't expect there to be quite frankly, in view of what happened at the last election and I can't imagine if we were to have a Conservative government there'd be any climate of trust either. So it really is a question of having someone who isn't independent in the sense of standing outside of the parties, but someone who's independent minded but also who can work with the government and deliver the services that London desperately needs.
DAVID FROST: And Nicki Gavron your rival for the Labour nomination says she'll urge everybody to put second preference for Ken, would you do that?
TONY BANKS: Well first of all Nicki has got to get over the fact that she has to be selected for the candidate first of all, there's an arrogance in that particular statement. No my first objective of course is to get selected as the candidate. The second preference is a matter for voters in London, you can't start directing your supporters to do anything at all, so let's take it one, one task at a time and the first one is that either Nicki or myself or someone else has got to be selected as the Labour candidate.
DAVID FROST: And the polls do show Tony, that Ken is way ahead of either of you?
TONY BANKS: Well I mean in fairness I mean I would expect that, you know there's the power of incumbency and Ken is, you know is a popular guy but whose popularity is waning. I mean look at the opinion polls in six month's time and I suspect they will look very different. You can't really sort of say well you just declare and expect to sweep to the top of the opinion polls, it doesn't work like that so I'm quite happy with the situation at the moment. Get to a Labour candidate which I hope to do and then we'll see how quickly I can reduce that lead.
DAVID FROST: Tony thank you very much indeed, we look forward to following the progress of this.
TONY BANKS: Thank you Sir David.
DAVID FROST: ...campaign. Young Tony Banks there.
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