John Smith's legacy back to haunt Labour

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The Independent Culture

Two new books about John Smith are expected to revive the uncomfortable debate in the Labour Party about whether the former leader, who died of a heart attack in 1994, has been "airbrushed out of history" by New Labour.

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill, his widow, has co-operated with the first, Guiding Light, which includes 25 of the former leader's speeches and a preface by the Scottish First Minister, Donald Dewar. The book will be published during this autumn's Labour conference.

Although Lady Smith has maintained a discreet silence on New Labour, she is understood to share the concern of some of Mr Smith's former close allies that he has not received enough credit for his part in paving the way for Labour's return to power.

Lady Smith has provided photographs for the book, and asked Mr Dewar, a close friend of her husband, to provide the preface. Iain Dale, of the book's publisher, Politico's, said the book was one of a series on political speeches. "A lot of people do feel that Mr Smith has been rather ignored over the last few years," he said.

The second book, a biography of Mr Smith, could prove more embarrassing for Mr Blair. Kevin Jefferys, a reader in history at the University of Plymouth, hopes to explore the tensions between Mr Smith and the modernisers, led by Mr Blair and Mr Brown, who shared his agenda but wanted to "go a lot faster and further".

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