Institution promoting public service would be a tribute to former Labour leader
ED MILIBAND yesterday welcomed plans for a new research centre to “promote public service as a noble vocation” in tribute to the life and work of former Labour leader John Smith.
Plans for the John Smith Centre for Public Service at the University of Glasgow are being made public today on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Current Labour leader Mr Miliband said: “John’s legacy lives on today, from the minimum wage to the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
“He campaigned for these changes and many more throughout his political lifetime and they were delivered by a Labour government.
“John knew the difference that politics and public service could make and the creation of the John Smith Centre for Public Service at the University of Glasgow is a fitting tribute.”
Mr Smith’s wife Elizabeth, now Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill, said: “The night before he died, John gave a speech at a Labour Party gala dinner in London concluding with the words: ‘The opportunity to serve our country — that is all we ask.’
“It is that single phrase that encapsulates a lifetime of seeking to help others through efforts in public service.”
Since her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack on 12 May 1994, Baroness Smith has been a driving force behind the work of the John Smith Trust which is now creating the new centre.
Its focus will be to encourage debate on and provide research into the value of public service, as well as attracting young people to contribute to public life, with a view to restoring the reputation of the role of public servants. The centre will be up and running by the end of the year.
Professor Anton Muscatelli, the university's principal, said John Smith was one of Glasgow’s most distinguished alumni with a “profound” influence and impact.
Professor Muscatelli said: “It is clear that we now live in an age of crisis and renewal.
“We should focus on the opportunities for renewal and creating the institutions and ideals that can drive improvement across society.
“The John Smith Centre for Public Service will be a suitable vehicle to deliver on these aims.”