BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: John Smith: A Life by Andy McSmith, Mandarin 4.99

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The Independent Culture
Astuteness, geniality and luck got John Smith within a fingernail's grasp of the top of the greasy pole. But his legacy (in spite of the eulogies which attended his death) is a dim one, and already getting dimmer. Perhaps it is because he actually achieved so little. Even as a Callaghan minister, his greatest project was the nugatory programme for Scottish devolution. And as leader of the opposition, says his biographer, 'one thing Smith never did was to commit the party to rash decisions'. So there is no policy monument to him comparable, say, to Gaitskell's battle with Aneurin Bevan. Not riveting but a useful recent history of the party through which Tony Blair, and not John Smith, may soon be governing us.

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