The Mission of the John Smith Centre

Based at the University of Glasgow, the John Smith Centre conducts and commissions research into public service and public servants across the United Kingdom. We use the findings to shape public debate and to make the positive case for representative democracy. The research also serves as the compass to guide the rest of our activities as an organisation. 

As the political debate becomes increasingly polarised, we’re in the business of promoting civilised debate. We do that through a series of annual lectures, panel discussions and events across the country. Combined with running a series of employability focused events, we’re keen to ensure the brightest and best public servants are accessible to everyone. 

We run a ground-breaking series of programmes which provide opportunities for people with the talent but not the means to access politics through a Parliamentary internship. We see these activities as critical to breaking down the barriers so many people face accessing and influencing public life. 

The inspiration for the work of the Centre comes from the Rt Hon. John Smith QC MP himself. The night before he died in May 1994, John Smith gave a speech which concluded with these words: “The opportunity to serve our country – that is all we ask.” That single phrase encapsulates a lifetime of seeking to help others through public service. Inspiring that in a new generation is the work of the John Smith Centre today. We are a non-partisan organisation focused on making the positive case for politics and public service. 

Kezia Dugdale, is the Director of the John Smith Centre and Professor of Practice in Public Service at the University of Glasgow.