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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 November, 2004, 03:00 GMT
MP bemoans 'tedious' constituents
Tony Banks MP
Tony Banks is known for his forthright views
Former sports minister Tony Banks has delivered a parting shot to his constituents by branding their problems "tedious in the extreme".

The Labour MP, who is quitting at the next election, said constituency work sometimes made him feel like a "high-powered social worker".

However, he said he would miss being chairman of the Works of Art Committee.

Mr Banks, MP for West Ham, in east London, made his comments on BBC Radio 4's Week in Westminster on Saturday.

'Intellectually numbing'

Mr Banks has spent more than two decades in Westminster and will keep on working until the general election, expected next May.

He said: "I most certainly won't miss the constituency work. I've got to tell you that honestly.

"It's 22 years of the same cases, but just the faces and the people changing. I found it intellectually numbing, tedious in the extreme.

You are working your nuts off and you are getting abused by journalists. I have got a very thin skin on these things.
Tony Banks MP

"It might sound a little disparaging to say this about people's lives and their problems and we did deal with them ... but I got no satisfaction from this at all. I really didn't.

"And all you were was a sort of high-powered social worker and perhaps not even a good one. So I won't miss that."

Mr Banks has been a colourful and outspoken character since his arrival at Westminster in 1983.

An avid animal rights supporter and Chelsea fan, he was made minister for sport in Tony Blair's first administration.

But his frank comments have often landed him in trouble.

He once described Tory leader William Hague as a "foetus" and upset Anglo-Canadian relations by calling the Canadians "dickheads" over seal culling.

Mr Banks told the BBC that he would miss his role as chairman of the Works of Art Committee, which looks after historic paintings and sculptures in Westminster.

He said he found his art committee role "straightforward fun" which gave him "intellectual enjoyment".


Mr Banks said he realised it was time to leave Westminster when he started asking himself "Why am I doing this?".

He had become increasingly annoyed by media reports suggesting MPs were enjoying a gravy-train existence, he said.

He said: "You are working your nuts off and you are getting abused by journalists. I have got a very thin skin on these things. And it really has annoyed me.

"I'm going to leave the House of Commons with overdrafts in all my bank accounts, with hardly any savings.

"Now, I'm not complaining about that because I represent an area where people are very poor, but you know.... that was a personal thing that really upset me."

MPs database
12 Sep 03 |  Politics
Tony Banks
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