Mr Newcastle: the career of T Dan Smith

Griffiths, John Francis (2019) Mr Newcastle: the career of T Dan Smith. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis examines the political career of the socialist politician Thomas Daniel Smith (1915-1993). It considers the origins and development of his ideology and ideas, examines his record as leader of Newcastle City Council, Chairman of the Northern Region Economic Planning Council and the Aycliffe & Peterlee Development Corporations, and also examines the circumstances surrounding his gaoling on corruption charges. Smith was a significant figure in local government and in the brief flourishing of political regionalism in the 1960s; this study casts light on his actions and provides a new perspective on developments in local government and regionalism.

The research primarily rests on examination of written archive resources - those of Smith, his political collaborators, political parties and government departments. This is supplemented by oral testimonies from taped interviews with Smith and others.

A number of original insights into Smith’s career have emerged from this research. These include his early activity in the Independent Labour Party and Workers’ International League. The thesis shows how Smith moved 1948-1959 from a Trotskyist to a Labour Revisionist stance, and how that affected his plans for the redevelopment of Newcastle and the regeneration of northern England. It shows the origins of the 1963 redevelopment plan for Newcastle were strongly influenced by the 1955 plan for Fort Worth, Texas. It demonstrates the extent of Smith’s efforts to reform urban administration in Newcastle to make fulfilment of his ideas possible. It shows in detail how Smith’s ambitions for Peterlee came close to success in its designation as Britain’s first government-recognised ‘science campus’. It demonstrates how several of the criminal charges laid against Smith in 1973 show major flaws. These findings are important in illuminating a number of areas. They offer a new perspective on the history of the wartime Trotskyist movement. They cast new light on the impact of revisionism in the postwar Labour Party. They contribute to the history of 20th century urban redevelopment by identifying the intellectual origins of the influential Newcastle plan. The findings on Peterlee provide a case study of science policy in a postwar new town. The examination of the criminal charges casts doubt on the stereotyped portrayal of Smith as a ‘corrupt city boss’. Overall, the research shows Smith to be an influential and innovative if highly controversial politician whose career offers fresh perspectives on local government, regional policy, and the postwar Labour Party.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Thomas Daniel Smith, Labour Party, corruption, socialist, politics
Subjects: L200 Politics
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2020 09:25
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 11:32

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