During his brief time as leader of the Labour Party he abolished the trade union block vote at Labour party conferences, and replaced it with "one member one vote". It was also during his time as leader, that the Labour party gained a significant lead in the polls over the Conservatives. He also committed a future Labour government to establishing a Scottish Parliament, a policy which was carried out by his successors after his death.
His sudden and untimely death from a heart attack, made way for young hopeful Tony Blair. John Smith was buried on the holy island of Iona, special permission having already been obtained. Following Smith's death, the Labour Party renamed its then party headquarters in Walworth Road to John Smith House in his memory.
For the Welsh MP, see John Smith (Welsh politician).