Death of John Smith: 25th Anniversary

Part of Acquired Brain Injury – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 9th May 2019.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South 2:52 pm, 9th May 2019

I hope that when my hon. Friend went into the memorial service, he stopped his meter—I know that John, as a traditional Scot, might not have done so.

Some of the stories about John can be repeated in public, but—with his wonderful wit and Scottish humour—there are some that are perhaps best not written into Hansard. I do not think that anybody would contradict the assertion that he was the best Prime Minister that this country never had. As a young Andrew Marr wrote:

“The greatest political tribute to John Smith is the simplest one: had he lived, he would have become Prime Minister.”

It is no exaggeration to suggest that his passing changed the course of British history. He was referred to as “Labour’s lost leader”, the man who made the Labour party electable again.

As well as being a formidable and committed politician of extreme intellect, transparency, decency and straightforwardness, with a sense of fairness and a willingness to fight for those who were not able to speak up for themselves, John Smith was a committed family man, with his wife Elizabeth, whom he met at Glasgow University, and his three daughters, Sarah, Jane and Catherine. The country may have lost a Prime Minister in waiting, but they suffered the heaviest and most heartbreaking loss of all—the loss of a husband, a father and a part of their lives that could never be replaced.