David Blunkett
A divisive, decisive figure in politics: David Blunkett Reuters

The former UK home secretary and Labour MP David Blunkett has announced he will stand aside for someone younger at the 2015 general election. "It is clear that the leadership of the party wish to see new faces in ministerial office and a clear break with the past," Blunkett said when announcing his decision.

Following similar announcements by Jack Straw and Peter Hain, Blunkett's departure could be seen as the final nail in the coffin of Blairism, or perhaps another signal that new Labour leader Ed Miliband wishes to reinvigorate the party he hopes to lead into government in 2015: the New, New Labour Party perhaps.

Whatever the reasons behind Blunkett's departure from politics at the age of 67, his exit marks the end of another chapter for his party. Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme Blunkett says he believes Miliband will lead Labour to victory but if he does not, "I think we would be in the wilderness for as much as 15 years because all the changes that the Conservative majority government would bring in would actually not be about fairness or equity or even sharing power, it would be about excluding the Labour party."

Instantly recognisable due to the fact he has been blind since birth and goes everywhere with his guide dog, Blunkett has been the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside since 1987 and even his political opponents have conceded he has shown astonishing energy, intelligence and ability in rising to such giddy heights after a tough childhood. Even The Spectator's Fraser Nelson calls Blunkett "one of Labour's very best MPs – and one of the very few people in parliament whose life I would describe as inspirational."

Yet Blunkett was also forced to resign from the cabinet on two occasions, once over the fast-tracking of a visa application for the nanny of his ex-lover, Kimberley Quinn, with whom he had a three-year affair and fathered a child.

Many on the left of the party also felt Blunkett was too hawkish in his support for emergency legislation introduced after the terrorist attacks on America in 2001, and he was condemned for describing civil liberties as "airy-fairy" when home secretary.

Yet crime fell dramatically when Blunkett was at the helm – he may have been divisive, but he was also decisive. He increased police numbers, softened some laws and hardened others, and was always willing to speak about issues many politicians shy away from – including immigration, religion and active citizenship.

Recognising the immense contribution Blunkett has made to his party Ed Miliband said: "David Blunkett is a man whose commitment and determination have carried him to the highest positions in politics with one purpose: to serve the people of our country. He will be hugely missed."