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David Blunkett has been 'huge asset' to Labour party

Ed Miliband said David Blunkett had been a "huge asset" to Labour and will be "hugely missed", after the former home secretary announced his decision to leave parliament.

Ed Miliband said David Blunkett would be 'hugely missed'. Credit: PA

"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," Mr Miliband said.

"He has been a friend to me during my time as leader. I have valued and counted on his advice and wisdom. Every Labour leader under whom he served would have said the same. He is Labour through and through.

"David can take great pride in all he has done to improve the lives of people in this country. He has been an amazing asset to the Labour Party and to Britain and I know he will continue to serve the country and the Labour Party with great distinction."

Read: David Blunkett to stand down from parliament

Blunkett: Miliband will want clear break from past

David Blunkett said Ed Miliband would want a "clear break from the past" if Labour won next year's general election, as he announced his decision to step down from Parliament.

Mr Blunkett, who will leave his Sheffied Brightside seat at the next general election, admitted to party members that standing down was his "most difficult political decision".

Next year will see 10 years on the backbenches, five in opposition.

Whilst I have been able to use the experience and the clout which came from having been a Cabinet minister for the benefit of the constituency in getting a hearing, contributing to policy and providing a voice for local people and for Sheffield at national level, it is clear that the leadership of the party wish to see new faces in ministerial office and a clear break with the past.

There does come a time when a fresh approach and the energy that goes with it outweigh other considerations, and I believe that for the party and for the constituency, as well as for me personally, that moment has come.

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Ed Miliband launches tough new welfare policy

Labour leader Ed Miliband has launched a tough new welfare policy while the latest polls suggest he might need his own relaunch. Mr Miliband said he wanted to cut Jobseekers allowance for young people, if they do not go on to training courses.

And he says he will have a new job in Downing Street, after the election.

ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan was at his policy launch:

Ed Miliband shrugs off Gordon Brown comparison

Ed Miliband appeared to be taken aback when ITV News correspondent Emily Morgan compared his leadership to that of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Miliband's position is under scrutiny after a recent poll showed half the public think he should be replaced before the 2015 general election.

Read: Ed Miliband would make a 'great Prime Minister'

Completely ignoring the question, he said "thanks, I am glad I called on you" and went on to speak to another journalist.

Mr Miliband was asked questions after announcing plans for the Job Seekers' allowance to be "replaced with a new youth allowance" for 18 to 21-year-olds in a bid to increase their skills.

Read: Under-21s to lose benefits 'until they learn key skills'

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Ed Miliband would make a 'great Prime Minister'

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has backed Labour leader Ed Miliband following a series of negative polls, insisting he would make a "great Prime Minister".

Half of the public, including 43 per cent of Labour supporters, believe Mr Miliband should be replaced before the general election, according to an Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has defended Ed Miliband following a series of negative polls.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has defended Ed Miliband following a series of negative polls. Credit: PA

"He is doing the right thing. In a year's time I think that Ed will be prime minister and I think he will be a great prime minister," Ms Reeves said.

Her comments come as the Labour leader is set to unveil a policy that 18 to 21-year-olds should agree to learn key skills if they want access to out-of-work benefits.

Read: Under-21s to lose benefits 'until they learn key skills'

Labour benefit move 'very different from IPPR proposal'

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has said Labour's policy to strip under-21s of benefits "unless they learn key skills'" is "very different" from a policy proposed by centre-left think tank IPPR last year.

In October the [IPPR] policy was all 18 to 25-year-olds, regardless of whether they had worked previously, regardless of whether they already had qualifications - A-levels, vocational qualifications, university degrees - and it was also restricting housing benefit for everybody under the age of 25.

So the policy today is a very different policy.

– Rachel Reeves

Read: Under-21s to lose benefits 'until they learn key skills'

Benefits based on contributions 'a principle deeply felt'

Basing benefits on what taxpayers have already paid into the system is "a principle deeply felt by the British people," according to Ed Miliband.

The Labour leader will say:

It is a principle deeply felt by the British people that people should get something back for all they have put in and not get something for nothing.

The next Labour government will change the way JSA operates to make sure that someone who has been working for years and years and paying in to the system gets more help if they lose their job than someone who has been working for just a couple of years.

And we will pay for it not by spending more money in the social security system overall, but by extending the length of time people need to have worked to qualify.

– Ed Miliband

Under-21s to lose benefits 'until they learn key skills'

Unemployed youngsters will have to agree to learn key skills if they want to have access to any sort of benefits, Ed Miliband is expected to say.

Read: Government to launch pilot scheme to tackle youth unemployment

Ed Miliband
Miliband is hoping to stop the Tories of accusing Labour of being "the party of welfare". Credit: PA

The Labour leader wants 18 to 21-year-olds to sign on for a "youth allowance" instead of jobseeker's on the condition they learn key skills which will get them into work.

Out-of-work youngsters who have well off parents will not be entitled to any unemployment benefit, the Labour leader will say.

People will also have to work longer to qualify for a boosted rate of jobseeker's allowance, as part of moves to restore the contributory principle to the system.

The commitments, unveiled in a speech to the IPPR think-tank, come with Mr Miliband facing persistent questions about his leadership with under a year to go until the general election.

Read: Unemployed under-25s face 'devastating' mental illnesses

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