John Smith

Biography of John Smith

John Smith
John Smith

The lawyer and politician John Smith (1938-1994) was a University graduate who was leader of the Labour Party from 1992 to 1994. He is represented on the Memorial Gates for his outstanding contribution to the political and cultural life of Scotland.

Born in Ardrishaig, Smith was educated at the University and graduated MA in 1960 and LLB in 1963. He was an active figure in the University Labour Club and served as its Chairman in the early 1960s. He was also an excellent debater, winning the Scotsman trophy with his friend Donald Dewar in 1961 and the Observer Mace debating competition in 1962 with A Gordon Hunter. In 1995 the latter competition was renamed the John Smith Memorial Mace in his honour.

In 1970 Smith was elected Labour MP for North Lanarkshire. He became an important figure in the Labour Party, guiding the party's proposals for devolution through Parliament in the 1970s and serving briefly as Minister of Trade. After Labour's defeat in the General Election of 1979, Smith served as Shadow Chancellor and in 1992 was elected leader of the Labour Party. He established the principle of "one member one vote" at party conferences and committed Labour to re-establishing a Scottish Parliament.

Smith is buried on Iona. His wife Elizabeth was created Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill in 1995.


John Smith
Lawyer and Politician

Born 13 September 1938.
Died 12 May 1994.
University Link: Alumnus
GU Degrees: MA, 1960; LLB, 1963;
Occupation categories: lawyers; politicians
Search for this person in the DNB
Record last updated: 29th Sep 2010

University Connections

University Roles

  • Alumnus

World Changing Achievements

John Smith is listed on the University of Glasgow World Changing website.


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