Miliband faces Balls problem

JUST as Labour recovers from the fraternal rivalry that gripped its conference this week, it looks as though a matrimonial battle is about to commence.

New Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to appoint the former work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper as his shadow chancellor.

But Ed Balls – her husband – has coveted the top economic brief for over a decade. He knew he would not win the leadership, but threw his hat into the ring to improve his chances of becoming shadow chancellor.

However, sources inside the Miliband camp were yesterday insisting that Cooper would be much better in the role, arguably the second most important job in opposition.

“Does he want a pugilist like Ed or a firm but fair voice of reason from Yvette? The truth is we absolutely need someone to bring the UK round to our argument,” an ally said yesterday.

“If Ed becomes shadow chancellor it could end up being a shouting match between the boys whereas Yvette could frame the language in ways that the public understands.”

Aides to Miliband suggested Balls could be offered the job of shadow business secretary, allowing him to take on Vince Cable. But there are growing fears that Cooper will turn down the job out of loyalty to Balls.

If Cooper does rule herself out, the Labour leader will likely have to give the post to Balls, despite his reservations.

Along with his wife, the former schools secretary and Gordon Brown ally, is the only senior Labour MP with enough grounding in economics to prepare the party’s response to the comprehensive spending review on 20 October.