YVETTE Cooper has topped the ballot in Labour’s shadow cabinet elections, putting her in poll position to become the next shadow chancellor – if she decides to accept the job.
Cooper’s husband Ed Balls, a key ally of Gordon Brown, has coveted the top economic brief for several years, leading to suggestions she will stand aside to help him secure the post.
But Ed Miliband, the recently-elected Labour leader, has told friends he wants Cooper, the former work and pensions secretary, to become shadow chancellor. He is said to fear that Balls could prove a divisive figure, and is considering making him shadow home secretary instead.
Cooper won 232 votes in the ballot of Labour MPs, which was announced last night, compared to 179 for Balls. He came in third place behind ex-housing minister John Healey, on 192.
Chancellor George Osborne has told City A.M. he would prefer it if Balls were to shadow him, partly because he would relish the political challenge, but also because he thinks it would be easier to blame him for the economic errors of the Blair-Brown years.
Labour stalwarts like Alan Johnson, Andy Burnham and Tessa Jowell were re-elected to Labour’s front bench, but there were big disappointments for some well-known MPs.
Leadership contender Diane Abbot failed to win enough support to become one of 19 shadow cabinet ministers, as did ex-Welsh secretary
Peter Hain and Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary.