As one of the architects of Scotland’s devolution settlement which led to the creation of the Holyrood parliament in 1999, he took deep pride in Scotland, his own Scottishness, but also Scotland’s continued relevance in the United Kingdom.
Had he lived to see the current independence referendum, he would have respected the right of Yes campaigners to seek an independent state but would have rejected their insistence that Scots must be forced to choose between Scotland and the UK.
He would have been dismayed at how the referendum has divided Scots and would have objected to the First Minister’s portrayal of the debate as, “Team Scotland” v “Team Westminster”.
John was very much a Westminster man, but a Scottish one who believed passionately that the fight for social justice was one that should be pursued across the UK if it was to succeed.
In the 1970s, he argued that turning the clock back to 1707 and breaking up the close economic, political and social interconnections that have been created across these isles in the last three centuries would be “an act of spectacular folly”.
I have no doubt were he with us today, as a proud Scot, he would have actively and vociferously campaigned for a No vote on 18 September.
Former press officer to John Smith, 1992-94