David Blunkett was elected as the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside in 1987. However, his outstanding political career began in local government as a member of Sheffield City Council where he worked for eighteen years, seven of those years as Leader of the Council.
In Parliament, David led Labour’s assault on the poll tax as Opposition Local Government Spokesman. Promoted to the Shadow Cabinet in 1992, he took on, in turn, responsibility for Health, Education and then Education and Employment.
Following the 1997 Labour election victory, David became Secretary of State for Education and Employment. There he oversaw massive improvements in the basic standards of literacy and numeracy, substantial class size reductions and the introduction of university tuition fees. He led on the implementation of the New Deal, saw unemployment fall to below 1 million and was committed to increasing equality through responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Commission and the establishment of the Disability Rights Commission.
With Labour returned in 2001, David became Home Secretary, where he dealt with counter-terrorism and the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, crime and antisocial behaviour, managing immigration and asylum, policing, criminal justice, prison and probation services, and citizenship.
David took a leading role in fighting Labour’s 3rd term election campaign in spring 2005, and from May to November 2005, he was made Secretary of State for Work and Pensions where he set a clear vision for reform of the welfare state, and established a nationwide debate to find a long-term solution to pensions challenges.
Since 2006, in addition to completing his diaries, “The Blunkett Tapes”, David has undertaken a series of major pieces of work – including on anti poverty and affordable credit; on social mobility; a review of the future role of the community and voluntary sector at the request of the then Prime Minister; Chaired a major review of dedicated school transport, leading a Commission which recommended extensive changes; and undertaken a review of police accountability for the Home Office which helped shape a subsequent Government White Paper.
David was made a member of the specially convened Speaker’s Conference in 2008. Having consulted widely, the Speaker’s Conference published its final report in January 2010 in which it made a wide range of recommendations aimed at rectifying the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons, and their representation in the UK population at large.
In addition, David continues to take a direct interest in cyber security – including as Honorary Chair of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA-UK) Advisory Board. He continues to undertake work on an international basis on welfare reform, on internet security and data processing, and maintains his long-standing interest in education, skills and training. David is involved with a large number of local, national and international charities, and is a regular contributor to the British media through newspapers and journals, radio and television.