Shuffling the pack

I did a quick blog post last night on the Shadow Cabinet elections without any real analysis or thought about the impacts of those elections apart from a couple of quick comments. Now that day has dawned, I thought I’d write a little more.

Despite some activists being a little upset at talented politicians not getting into the shadow cabinet, Ed Miliband seems to have done ok in this election. He could certainly have done a lot worse.

I still personally believe that the electing of the cabinet while we’re in opposition is a bit silly in this day and age. We elected our leader (albeit by a very narrow margin), and we should trust him to choose his own cabinet. After all, if Labour win the next election, Miliband will be doing the selection in Government.

Anyway, that’s a little off point. Today, the bookies have Yvette Cooper, who came top of the poll, as the favourite for the Shadow Chancellorship. As a former apprentice of Gordon Brown and a Chief Secretary to the Treasury, she seems qualified to step up to the job.

Cooper didn’t run for the leadership where she would have gained a lot of support because she didn’t want to run against her husband, Ed Balls. But can she really turn down  a big job without spoiling any future ambitions she is harbouring? And don’t doubt for a second, Dear Reader, that Yvette is an ambitious and talented woman.

Ed Miliband should find it fairly straight forward to choose Yvette as Chancellor. She won by a clear margin, and Balls the next best candidate for the job only came third behind his wife and the highly underrated and fairly anonymous John Healey.

It’s pretty obvious why Miliband may not want to cede so much power to Balls by giving him the role of Shadow Chancellor. While Balls is very experienced, working as Brown’s right-hand man for many years, he also can’t get away from the fact that he is known as a hatchet-man and is also tainted by the Treasury’s failures in regulation and over-borrowing, as well as by stating that Alistair Darling’s position cuts too quickly.

Miliband’s other problem, though, is that the obvious candidate, Cooper, is still as close to Balls as is possible, and a power divide could still ensue between Camp Miliband and Camp Balls, taking us back to the two-axis days of Blair-Brown.

So that, Dear Reader, is the big story of the election. Another story is the prominence of women in the new Shadow Cabinet. A minimum of six would have been put in the cabinet even if every man in the election had come ahead of them, but unsurprisingly, this rule was completely unnecessary with the election of eight women out of the nineteen places.

There’s an interesting balance of old hands and relative rookies. Alan Johnson, Ed Balls, Tessa Jowell, Hilary Benn, and Caroline Flint all had ministerial experience in Government. Rising stars such as Sadiq Khan, Mary Creagh, Meg Hillier, and Ivan Lewis will all want to make an impact.

As for the losers in this election, well, they’re professional politicians. They have the thickest of thick skins. And, like zombies, most of them will rise again to live another day.

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