David Blunkett has announced he will stand down from Parliament at the next general election.
Mr Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, announced to his constituency annual meeting last night that he would not be seeking re-election.
In his letter to local party members, Mr Blunkett said the decision to quit was “the most difficult political decision I have ever made, in a lifetime of difficult decisions”. He has held the seat since 1987.
He said: “I have done my best to balance my own personal considerations with those of both our local party and the electorate of Brightside and Hillsborough.
“This has been by far the most difficult political decision I have ever made, in a lifetime of extremely difficult decisions. Not least because members (and it is true of the majority of local people have always given me unconditional but not uncritical support.
“I owe so much to so many people who have made it possible for me to play a significant part in public life and to have the privilege of eight years in the Cabinet of a Labour Government, of which I remain extremely proud.”
Mr Blunkett’s political career dates back to his election as a councillor in Sheffield at the age of 22. He was elected to Parliament in 1987 and served on the Shadow Cabinet. He became Education and Employment Secretary in 1997, Home Secretary in 2001, and Work and Pensions Secretary in 2005.
He said: “I was privileged to be able to lead on ground-breaking policies, from the introduction of universal early years and nursery provision, to the transformation of education in our schools, and the security of the nation post the 11th
United States in 2001.
“It was a privilege to enable young people to have a job, to access higher education frozen under the previous Government, and to be able to oversee the most substantial fall in crime in recent history.
“All of us build on what has come before and learn the lessons that change often takes more time and greater patience than is acceptable to any Minister intent on immediate improvement and early outcomes.”
He also leant his backing to the embattled current Labour leader and fellow Yorkshire MP Ed Miliband.
He said: “Ed Miliband is committed to leading Britain through the challenges ahead, to offering that hope and transforming our country in order to take on both the opportunities and pitfalls of globalisation, and to hear and respond to fears and concerns of men and women across the country. That is why all of us have an obligation to ensure that we elect a Labour Government and put Ed Miliband in Downing Street on May 7.
Local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) Secretary and Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards said: “Working with David has been great. I’m really disappointed that he’s standing down. We all wanted him to stay on. He’ll be almost impossible to replace. We now have a huge challenge ahead to find someone with the right values, the right vision and a real connection with and commitment to representing local people.”