Letter: T Dan, a man with a vision of the North

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Sir: Before subjecting us to her infantile demonology, perhaps Beatrix Campbell ('Faust redeemed on Tyneside', 4 August) might have considered why T Dan Smith still inspires such widespread affection and respect in the North-east.

Her account of his rise and fall is so shallow and pantomime-like that it will probably be included in the national curriculum.

T Dan Smith's vision for the North went far beyond municipal modernism. He was profoundly humane and democratic; the well-being and liberation of others lay at the heart of his life and of his politics. More than this, he dared to believe in a region asserting itself against the power and vested interests of London. He helped to set up several accountable regional structures and, given the chance, would have gone further. His so-called 'revolutionary fantasy of regionalism' was simply a passion that ordinary Northerners might have a stake in their own destiny.

'Some men went to prison. The system survived,' observes Ms Campbell, at the peak of her perspicacity. It survived indeed - with a vengeance - and went on to impose upon the North an unaccountable quangocracy that Dan called legalised Poulsonism and which many of us regard as colonial government. They would have found that much more difficult had they not disposed so effectively of T Dan Smith.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN WIGHAM

Members' Services Unit,

City of Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle upon Tyne

4 August

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