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  Tony Banks dies
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ContributorNew Jerusalem 
Last EditedNew Jerusalem  Jan 08, 2006 05:35pm
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MediaTV News - British Broadcasting Corporation BBC News
News DateSunday, January 8, 2006 11:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionFormer sports minister Tony Banks has died after suffering a massive stroke on holiday in the US at the age of 62.
The ex-Labour MP for West Ham and latterly Lord Stratford, was at lunch on Sanibel Island, Florida, on Thursday when he collapsed.

Prime Minister Tony Blair paid tribute to "one of the most charismatic politicians in Britain".

An avid Chelsea football club fan, in 1999 he led an unsuccessful UK bid to host the World Cup at Wembley.

Fellow Chelsea fan and friend, former Tory minister David Mellor, said he was a "man of passion" who possessed a "sharp and witty tongue".

"But he exuded such joie de vivre that no-one could seriously take offence to his opinions.

"He was immensely popular on both sides of the House."

Lord Stratford became an MP in 1983 but did not stand in last year's election.

He was known for his forthright views while an MP. His popularity with the public gave him a "man of the people" image.

As an MP, his office was based in Stratford, east London, for 20 years, an area where he also lived.

He took his ministerial role in Tony Blair's first administration but resigned in 1999 to concentrate on the World Cup bid.

The Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, said that he played a crucial role in winning big sporting events for the UK:

"He was heavily involved in the bid for England to host the 2006 World Cup. We lost that.

"We won the Olympic bid, and Tony with complete frankness and candour and in many self deprecating moments shared a lot of what he felt went wrong with the World Cup bid to help us do better with the Olympics."

From the backbenches he pursued his passion for animal welfare, contributing to the Hunting Bill debate.

John Cooper, chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports said of Lord Stratford, the League's vice-president: "In his firm belief that people have a moral responsibility in respect of how they treat animals, Tony Banks was not just a figurehead for millions of a
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