British Labour politician, 1938–1994
John Smith is the man who might just have been Prime Minister, had he survived his heart attack. Formerly a Scottish barrister, he was elected to Parliament in 1970, served as the Secretary for Trade in 1978 and subsequently as Labour spokesperson on economic and industrial issues. Tending toward the right wing of the party, he developed a reputation as a moderate. He was elected leader of the Labour Party after Neil Kinnock's resignation in 1992, beating Tony Benn to the leadership.
A pragmatic, compassionate and careful man, many felt him to be the ideal choice to lead the country into a better economic and social balance following the Thatcher Years. Even many Conservatives admired and respected his common sense approach to politics, people and the economy. My own father (a lifelong Tory) said it was a sad day for politics when he died. Me, I cried when I heard the news.
In many people's eyes, John Smith was the "best Prime Minister Labour never had".