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TONY BANKS BIDS FOR LONDON MAYOR

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Sports minister Tony Banks says he is 'very tempted' to enter the race to be Labour's candidate for the first mayor...
Sports minister Tony Banks says he is 'very tempted' to enter the race to be Labour's candidate for the first mayor of London, according to the Sunday Express (p17). The announcement comes after a bitter clash with Tony Blair and his immediate boss, culture secretary Chris Smith, over Manchester United's withdrawal from next season's FA Cup. He and Mr Smith are said to be barely on speaking terms.

Mr Banks said: 'I am very tempted to put myself forward for mayor. I am still trying to establish the sort of powers the job would have. A job that is all publicity and little power is not very attractive'.

Running for mayor would produce a head-on clash with his old firiend Ken Livingstone, MP for Brent East, leader of the former Greater London Council, of which Mr Banks was the last chairman. A Banks campaign could split the left-wing Labour vote in the capital. Also bidding for the Labour nomination so far is broadcaster Trevor Phillips.

Mr Banks says he will not make a formal decision on whether to stand until after the Labour Party conference in the autumn. He is worried that any mayoral campaign might clash with his attempt to bring the 2006 World Cup competition to England. The final decision-date on where the contest will be held was recently postponed until next July - after the mayoral election.
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