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Tom Smith (born November 8, 1940) is an English Social Democrat politician who served as Prime Minister of England from March to May 1990, and Leader of the Social Democratic Party from 1990 to 1991. He is the shortest serving Prime Minister in English history.
Smith entered Parliament in 1969, and held numerous ministerial positions under the Brown government. He became the protege of James Newton , and when Newton became Chancellor in 1976 Smith entered cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
The SDP lost the 1977 general election, and Smith served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition. Following the 1980 election James Cox resigned and Smith contested the leadership, being eliminated on the first round his endorsement of James Newton was seen as instrumental in the latter's election as leader. Newton appointed him shadow Chancellor.
Following the Social Democratic victory in the 1982 general election Smith became Chancellor. He initially supported traditional pump priming economics, increasing public expenditure further, especially in job creation schemes. However his 1983 budget was much more conservative, slashing spending on some aspects of the welfare state and raising the pension age. He was re-appointed Chancellor after the 1984 election.
In 1985 he was reshuffled to become Foreign Secretary, a position he would hold for the next 5 years. He furthered the cause of european integration, and became a respected international statesman.
After the stock market crash of 1987 shook the government deeply, and caused England to go into a sharp recession. Newton's calls for deeper cuts in public spending unnerved many within the SDP and the trade union movement, leading to the General Strike of 1988. In the spring of 1990, with a general election looming Smith challenged Newton for the leadership, winning and replacing him as Prime Minister.
His brief premiership was largely dominated by the 1990 general election campaign. After a long and bitter campaign the election resulted in a landslide defeat for the SDP, with many prominent Social Democrats, including Smith himself, losing their seats.
Smith immediately resigned as SDP leader, and retired from active politics.
Tom Smith was born on November 8, 1940 in Bolton, Lancashire.