John Smith
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office:

October 5, 1990 - May 12, 1994

Preceded by: Denis Healey
Succeded by: Margaret Beckett (acting)
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office:

1987 - 1990

Preceded by: Roy Hattersley
Succeded by: Bryan Gould
Trade and Industry Secretary
In office:

1984 - 1987

Preceded by: Office Created
Succeded by: Bryan Gould

September 13 1938, Dalmally, Argyll and Bute

Died May 12 1994, London
Nationality: British
Political party: Labour

Elizabeth Bennett

Children: Sarah, Jane, Catherine
Alma mater:

Peterhouse, Cambirdge

Occupation: Politician
Religion: Church of Scotland

John Smith was a british politician who served as Prime Minister (1990 - 1994). He remains the most recent british prime minister to die in office.

First elected as an MP in 1970, he held several junior ministerial posts during the Jenkins government. He joined the shadow cabinet in 1977.

When labour returned to office in 1982 he held a host of cabinet posts, Trade Secretary (1982), Energy Secretary (1982 - 1983), Employment Secretary (1983 - 1984), Trade and Industry Secretary (1984 - 1987). After the 1987 election he was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Following Denis Healey's resignation Smith contested the Labour leadership, winning on the fifth ballot.

He led the successful campaign for a Scottish assembly in the 1991 referendum, with Welsh and English assemblies being set up without a referendum in 1993.

Only days after the inaugural election for the English Assembly in May 1994, Smith died suddenly of a heart attack.

Early Life

Early Political Career

He entered Parliament at the 1970 election as member for the dafe Labour constituency of North Lanarkshire.

When Labour returned to office he became Trade Secretary, before being moved to Energy in the Autumn reshuffle.

In 1983 he moved to employment. In 1984 the offices of Secretary of State for Trade and Secretary of State for Industry were merged to form the larger office of Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Smith was promoted to fill the office.

Chancellor of the Exchequer (1987 - 1990)

After the 1987 election Smith was promoted to Chancellor. Many had expected the move, and it was thought by many that he had a good chance of succeding Healey as Prime Minister before the next parliament.

However, in 1988 he suffered a serious heart attack, and had to spend several months away from Wesminster. During this period other senior figures, prominentley David Owen and Neil Kinnock, built up their profiles as potential leaders.

Smith's 1989 budget was noticably austere.

1990 Labour Leadership election

Main Article: Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1990

Smith was considered an outsider candidate for the leadership, despite the fact he held the second most senior job in cabinet. He lacked the support of a party faction, there were Owenites, Kinnockites as Hattersleyites but not Smithites.

Smith placed himself as a centrist candidate, pledging an inclusion of all of his leadership rivals in a Smith cabinet, and to reform the party leadership election process. He also pledged to maintain the economic course he had set out at Chancellor.

He placed a close third in the first ballot of MP's - on 18.9% - one vote behind David Owen. On the next ballot smith built up momentum. Unlike Kinnock and Owen, Smith was seen as a moderate acceptable to both the soft left and soft right.

Prime Minister (1990 - 1994)

Smith inherited a labour party that was worn out, and deeply divided.

His first act as Prime Minister was to appoint Bryan Gould his successor as Chancellor. Gordon Brown had been seen as Smith's likely successor, however Smith sought to appease other factions of the party.

Labour was widely expected to lose the next election, which was due by 1992, however following Smith's asscension to the premiership Labour saw its poll ratings bounce from 31% in August 1990 to 47% in November 1990. Smith decided to go for an early election, choosing May 1991.

First Smith Ministry 1990 - 1991

Prime Minister - John Smith

Chancellor of the Exchequer - Bryan Gould

Foreign Secretary - Neil Kinnock

Home Secretary - Roy Hattersley

Defence Secretary

Education Secretary - Jack Straw

Employment Secretary - Tony Blair

Energy Secretary - Frank Dobson

Health Secretary - Robin Cook

Trade and Industry Secretary - Gordon Brown

Scottish Secretary - Donald Dewar

Second Smith Ministry 1991 - 1994

Prime Minister - John Smith

Chancellor of the Exchequer - Gordon Brown

Foreign Secretary - Neil Kinnock

Home Secretary - Jack Cunningham

Defence Secretary -

Education Secretary - Ann Taylor

Employment Secretary - Tony Blair

Energy Secretary -

Health Secretary - David Blunkett


Smith is remembered with affection by many, Labour and Conservative supporters alike.

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