Lectures to honour John Smith

AN ANNUAL John Smith lecture is to be launched by the late Labour leader's widow to mark the fifth anniversary of his death next month, writes Rachel Sylvester, Political Editor.

Tony Blair is expected to give the inaugural speech, which is being organised by the Smith Institute, whose patron is Baroness Smith. The focus of the lectures will be the importance of combining economic competence with social values, the philosophy seen as the former leader's main legacy to the Labour Party.

The move comes amid concern among some MPs that too little is being done to commemorate Mr Smith's death. Donald Dewar, the Secretary of State for Scotland, plans to name a room in the Scottish Parliament in his memory but no national events are planned and some MPs suspect Blairites are trying to black out Mr Smith's memory. Baroness Smith was upset when Labour decided not to name its new headquarters in Millbank, London, after him.