Cooper tops shadow cabinet vote

Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper's new job is expected to be revealed over the next few days

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Yvette Cooper has come top of Labour's vote for its new shadow cabinet.

The former work and pensions secretary's husband Ed Balls came third, with ex-housing minister John Healey in second place.

Ex-cabinet ministers Peter Hain, Shaun Woodward and Ben Bradshaw failed to win a place on leader Ed Miliband's team.

Diane Abbott, one of the challengers in the recent leadership race, was not one of the eight female candidates returned by Labour MPs.

Among the 19 people chosen, from a field of 49, were former cabinet ministers Alan Johnson, Hilary Benn, Andy Burnham, Douglas Alexander, John Denham, Jim Murphy and Liam Byrne.

It is up to Mr Miliband to decide which of the successful candidates is given which job. Labour said there would be no announcements until at least Friday lunchtime.

'Really good people'

Reacting to the ballot on the social networking site Twitter, Mr Balls wrote of himself and his wife: "We both v happy with the results."

Analysis

Take a glance at the new shadow cabinet list and you are struck by the high-profile names who failed to make it.

There is no place for former cabinet members Peter Hain, Ben Bradshaw and Shaun Woodward. The defeated leadership contender Diane Abbott also remains on the back benches.

Consider the votes achieved by each candidate and there is a more detailed tale to tell. Yvette Cooper comes top. Her husband Ed Balls is third. An Ed Balls supporter - the former housing minister John Healey - takes second place.

Mr Balls emerges from this contest strengthened. His fellow defeated leadership candidate Andy Burnham will be pleased with joint-fourth place.

Labour is sure to make much of the fact, as of today, 11 women have shadow cabinet places. Those engaged in the classic Westminster game of trying to work out whose followers are up and whose are down will note that 10 of those elected were David Miliband supporters, and five backed Ed Miliband.

Observers with a cruel streak will highlight those who won the fewest votes. Eric Joyce had just 10 backers, Alun Michael 11 and Mike Gapes 12.

There is one significant omission : the lack of any MP representing a Welsh constituency, which could make choosing a shadow Welsh secretary difficult.

Labour sources expect to see a Welsh MP in that job, so it looks highly likely Ed Miliband will appoint one to the front bench. Of the possible candidates, Peter Hain is by far the best known.

Mr Murphy, who ran the failed leadership campaign of Mr Miliband's brother David, said he was "delighted" to be on the top team.

He added: "Of course it is sad there are some really good people who didn't win but I look forward to working with Ed Miliband and all the new team in taking on the Tories and Lib Dems".

Under Labour rules, MPs had to elect at least six female colleagues to the shadow cabinet, but opted for eight in total.

Former Europe minister Caroline Flint and sisters Angela and Maria Eagle won places, as did Meg Hillier and Ann McKechin.

Ex-Cabinet Office minister and culture secretary Tessa Jowell retains her top-team status, while Mary Creagh enters the shadow cabinet despite never having served on the front bench before.

Maria Eagle told BBC News: "I think the fact that eight women have been elected shows that the Parliamentary Labour Party want a balance in terms of gender.

"They've noticed that the government is gender-blind, it's hitting women very hard."

There are another two women MPs and one peer who already have a place in the shadow cabinet, bringing the total to 11.

Harriet Harman, elected deputy party leader in 2007, is included automatically, while chief whip Rosie Winterton was elected unopposed to the position last week. Baroness Royall, leader of the opposition in the House of Lords, also retains her place.

Some 258 Labour MPs were eligible to vote in the shadow cabinet contest. Ms Cooper - who is being lined up for the shadow chancellor's job by many commentators - was picked by 232 of them. Mr Healey got 192 votes and Mr Balls 179.

Hain: 'There's a lot of women in the shadow cabinet- that's really good"

Angela Eagle came joint fourth with Mr Burnham, on 165 votes, followed by Mr Johnson, who attracted the support of 163 MPs.

Ten of the 19 candidates backed David Miliband in the leadership contest, while five supported Ed Miliband, three Mr Balls and one Mr Burnham.

The first significant outing for the new shadow cabinet team will come next Wednesday, when Mr Miliband takes on David Cameron at prime minister's questions for the first time.

Labour only elects its top team when in opposition. The last such contest took place in 1996.

The full list of successful candidates is:

Douglas Alexander - 160 votes

Ed Balls - 179 votes

Hilary Benn - 128 votes

Andy Burnham - 165 votes

Liam Byrne - 100 votes

Yvette Cooper - 232 votes

Mary Creagh - 119 votes

John Denham - 129 votes

Angela Eagle - 165 votes

Maria Eagle - 107 votes

Caroline Flint - 139 votes

John Healey - 192 votes

Meg Hillier - 106 votes

Alan Johnson - 163 votes

Tessa Jowell - 152 votes

Sadiq Khan - 128 votes

Ivan Lewis - 104 votes

Ann McKechin - 117 votes

Jim Murphy - 160 votes

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