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John Smith (UK politician)

John Smith (September 13, 1938 - May 12, 1994) was a British politician who served as leader of the Labour Party from mid-1992 until his death. Born in Scotland, he was schooled in Dunoon before attending the University of Glasgow where he studied law. He qualified as a barrister before entering parliament. Despite his quiet, modest manner, and his politically moderate stance, he was a witty, often scathing speaker. He had suffered a heart attack some years before becoming leader, and had been obliged to lose weight in order not to risk further problems. Following Labour's surprise election defeat in 1992, he was elected to succeed Neil Kinnock as leader.

During his brief time as leader of the Labour Party he abolished the trade union block vote at Labour party conferences, and replaced it with "one member one vote". It was also during his time as leader, that the Labour party gained a significant lead in the polls over the Conservatives. He also commited a future Labour government to establishing a Scottish Parliament, a policy which was carried out by his successors after his death.

His sudden and untimely death from a heart attack, made way for young hopeful Tony Blair. John Smith was buried on the holy island of Iona, special permission having already been obtained. Following Smith's death, the Labour Party renamed its then party headquarters in Walworth Road to John Smith House in his memory.


Not to be confused with the above is John Smith (born March 7, 1951), Labour MP for the Vale of Glamorgan. This John Smith was first elected to the seat in 1989, lost it to the Conservatives in 1992, and regained it in the general election of 1997.



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