Born into a working-class family in Sheffield, David Blunkett ascended to one of the highest political positions in the country. But his remarkable rise was anything but smooth. The Blunkett Tapes is an intimate diary of his past nine years at the centre of power, unprecedented in its candour and rueful humanity. His story is all the more remarkable for the gritty tenacity that he has demonstrated throughout his life, dealing daily with the challenges of working without sight. With vivid immediacy and characteristic bluntness, David Blunkett chronicles the inside story of New Labour as it has occupied the corridors of power, and as he progressed from Education and Employment Secretary to Home Secretary, eventually finishing his front-bench career as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Never before has David Blunkett written about his relationships with key Cabinet colleagues in the hurly-burly of day-to-day politics, the challenge of developing policy and bringing about lasting change. Woven into the diary entries are Blunkett's personal reflections, as unflinchingly frank as they are incisive.
Rarely does a politician so willingly admit where he went wrong, what he should have done better, and the unforeseen twists which affected his professional and private life. From the blistering confidence of New Labour's early days as they burst jubilantly on to the scene in 1997, through the troubled years that led to his two resignations, The Blunkett Tapes is the compulsively readable journey of one of the most fascinating politicians of our time.
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.