Letter: A mobile tribute to John Smith

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The Independent Online
A WEEK is a long time in politics so to remember someone three years after their death may be asking a lot. But not when the person in question is John Smith whose memory is synonymous with the right to roam ("Labour caves in to rich...", 18 January). The former Labour leader was a keen hill walker and just a few weeks before his tragic death was "Munro bagging" in Scotland.

Tony Blair would do well to remember the legacy that John Smith left him on this issue. On many occasions he denounced the Conservative government for putting the interests of a small number of wealthy landowners above the majority of British people by denying them access to the countryside. He also passionately believed that the de facto access to mountain, moor and heath enjoyed by the Scots should be shared with everyone but realised this would never be achieved through voluntary agreements.

John Smith never lived to see the day when a right to roam would be enshrined in legislation. However his views on the subject are still echoed by many in the Cabinet and particularly resonate with the grass roots of the parliamentary Labour Party. If Tony Blair truly wants to "govern on behalf of all the people" he should not use his influence to block legislation but become its champion. In this way he would be delivering on a key pledge Labour made in Opposition and leaving a fitting tribute to the life of John Smith.

Nicholas Milton

London N1