RIP Trevor Smith

I was very sad to see that Trevor Smith, Lord Smith of Clifton, had died.  (The Clifton in the title"HOL0018","Professor the Lord","Smith of Clifton",,"HOL",,"10/06/03" is Clifton, York, not – as many assumed – Clifton, Bristol.)  Until he retired from the Lords two years ago, he was part of the ‘Hull mafia’ in the House.  At the time, virtually all the political scientists in the House had taught at or studied in the Politics Department at Hull.  Trevor started his teaching career in the Department, being appointed in 1962 – a year after the Department was founded – as an assistant lecturer in public administration.  He was promoted to lecturer in 1964 and left in 1967 to pursue his academic career elsewhere.  He was eventually to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ulster.

Trevor was renowned for being an excellent mimic (not least of his  colleagues from his days in Hull) and had a notable sense of humour.  At one point, we decided that, as those peers who had held senior judicial officer were addressed as ‘noble and learned’ and those who held field rank in the armed forces were ‘noble and gallant’, professors should be addressed as ‘noble and scholarly’.  We decided to try this out in the chamber on an occasion when we were both contributing.  I referred to him as the noble and scholarly Lord and he referred to me in the same way.  Hansard clearly didn’t want to play ball and changed one reference to ‘the scholarly and noble Lord’ and the other to ‘the noble – and scholarly – Lord’.

Although physically somewhat infirm in later years, he continued to play an active part in the Lords, not least speaking on Northern Ireland.  Shortly before retiring from the House, he published his memoirs in which he made clear his affection for Hull.  He was part of a small Department, but one that produced some distinguished political scientists.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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