John Smith 1938-1994 - 25th Anniversary

Issued: Sat, 11 May 2019 00:00:00 BST

Smith Family

On 13th May 1994, the day after the Rt Hon John Smith QC MP died, Andrew Marr wrote a tribute in the Independent: John Smith 1938-1994: The man who would have led Britain.

In it he says, “[John Smith] is the lost leader of a lost country. Had he lived, he would have entered our lives, affected our wealth, altered our morale, changed how we thought about our country, influenced the education of our children. His grin would have become a familiar icon, his diction the raw material of satire. At however many removes, and however obscurely, his personality would have glinted through the state and touched us all.”

On the 25th anniversary of John’s death, the John Smith Centre is celebrating all the work that has been done in his name since then.

Over the last five years since the Centre’s launch, we have created our flagship Parliamentary Internship Programme, undertaken pioneering research into public service, and hosted events with high profile speakers such as Former PM Sir John Major and Stella Creasy MP.

We are now thrilled to be welcoming Kezia Dugdale as our first Director in mid-July.

Kezia and Catherine Smith, Chair of the John Smith Centre and John’s youngest daughter, were interviewed by BBC Business and Economy Editor Douglas Fraser for Good Morning Scotland where they discussed the legacy of John Smith, the context of public service today, and the work of the Centre. Listen to the interview here [interview starts at 1:29:50].

We are also celebrating the work of the John Smith Trust in supporting over 500 Fellows to take part in a fellowship programme for young and potential leader from the Wider European and Central Asia regions.

Catherine Smith said, "Today we are celebrating the John Smith Centre for Public Service which was set up to honour my father’s legacy. Rooted in the University of Glasgow where my father was so proud to hone his skills, our mission is to promote a positive vision for representative politics. An invidious task, no doubt. But a vital one.  

We seek to encourage those with the passion and commitment to serve to do so, to see politics as the most effective vehicle for change. We facilitate access for those who don't have it, in the knowledge that the more diverse our political representatives are, the better placed they are to truly represent the people.

Earlier in the year at our inaugural John Smith Public Service Lecture, Sir John Major said that a fundamental truth about our politics has been lost – that the vast majority of our politicians are in fact diligent public representatives, who fight and vote for what their conscience believes and their philosophy dictates.

John Smith believed passionately that to represent others was the greatest privilege a person could have. Perhaps the best tribute we can pay today is to collectively, and loudly, acknowledge that not all politicians are in it for themselves, and many of them are actually men and women of integrity, decency and honesty, just like him.”