Labour MP David Blunkett to stand down after general election

David Blunkett served as education secretary, home secretary and work and pension secretary

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Former home secretary David Blunkett has announced he will stand down as a Labour MP at the next general election.

Mr Blunkett, who has been the MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough since 1987, said the Labour leadership would want "new faces" in the party.

He vowed to support leader Ed Miliband, but told the BBC the party could be in opposition for 15 years if it did not win next year's general election.

Mr Miliband said Mr Blunkett, 67, had been an "amazing asset" to the party.

He said the former cabinet minister had been "a friend to me during my time as leader" and would be "hugely missed".

"I have valued and counted on his advice and wisdom. Every Labour leader under whom he served would have said the same. He is Labour through and through."

'Clear break'

Mr Blunkett told local party members that "there does come a time when a fresh approach and the energy that goes with it outweigh other considerations".

He said: "I believe that for the party and for the constituency, as well as for me personally, that moment has come."

Mr Blunkett said standing down from parliament had been "by far the most difficult political decision I have ever made, in a lifetime of extremely difficult decisions".

David Blunkett in 1988 Mr Blunkett - who was the youngest ever leader of Sheffield City Council - was elected to parliament in 1987
David Blunkett with Gordon Brown He became education secretary in 1997, serving in the cabinet alongside future the prime minister, Gordon Brown
Tony Blair and David Blunkett at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth 2003. He went on to become home secretary as part of Tony Blair's Labour government

Mr Blunkett, who served as education secretary, home secretary and work and pension secretary under former prime minister Tony Blair, said the Labour leadership wanted to make a "clear break with the past".

But he vowed to continue to make a contribution to "public service and the social and voluntary sector".

Mr Blunkett said he had been "privileged to be able to lead on ground-breaking policies" in education and the security of the nation after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States in 2001, when he was home secretary.

Resignations

He became the youngest ever leader of Sheffield City Council in 1980, before he was elected as an MP and was later appointed as education secretary in 1997, following the landslide election victory for New Labour.

However, he resigned from cabinet posts twice - the first time in 2004 as home secretary after a visa application for ex-lover Kimberly Quinn's nanny was fast-tracked.

An official inquiry found a "chain of events" linking Mr Blunkett's office to the speeding up of a visa application.

Less than 12 months later he stepped down as work and pensions secretary, following a row over his business interests.

One of Mr Blunkett's biggest challenges as home secretary was dealing with the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

The MP, who was born blind, has said one of his greatest successes has been breaking down barriers for people with disabilities.

He becomes the latest former Labour cabinet minister to announce his decision to stand down in 2015, including his predecessor as home secretary, Jack Straw, and former Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain.

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