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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 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. He oversaw substantial improvements in the basic standards of literacy and numeracy, considerable class size reductions, and the introduction of tuition fees, as well as the introduction of the New Deal for the unemployed and the reduction of the claimant count for unemployment, below a million for the first time in twenty-five years. From June 2001 to December 2004 David was Home Secretary, where he concentrated on fighting terrorism, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, and managing immigration and asylum. He returned to the Cabinet in May 2005, where as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 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.

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