49 MPs join race for frontbench role
Wednesday 29 September 2010
The battle for jobs in Ed Miliband's top team was joined in earnest tonight with 49 Labour MPs putting themselves forward.
Those seeking election to the shadow cabinet range from household names such as Alan Johnson and Ed Balls to relatively obscure backbenchers.
Details released by Labour also disclosed that Rosie Winterton was the only candidate for party chief whip after Mr Miliband exerted his new authority by suggesting other contenders withdraw.
The departure of some of Labour's biggest beasts - including David Miliband, Lord Mandelson, Alistair Darling and Jack Straw - has left opportunities for fresh faces.
But with just 19 spaces available, the majority of applicants will end up disappointed.
Under Labour rules, its MPs vote to decide who should be in the shadow cabinet when the party is in opposition. A minimum quota of six women has been imposed as part of efforts to promote equality.
However, the leader can still choose which specific jobs individuals receive.
Close allies of Ed Miliband are expected to be the biggest winners in the process, with his leadership campaign manager and former transport minister Sadiq Khan tipped for a bigger role.
Former ministers Caroline Flint and sisters Angela and Maria Eagle are among the women nominated - while left-winger Diane Abbott is a wild-card entrant after her leadership bid.
As the elected deputy leader, Harriet Harman does not need any further endorsement from her colleagues, but there are suggestions she could be rewarded with a major brief such as health after a solid stint covering in the top job.
In that case Andy Burnham, who handled health in government, could be shifted sideways to home affairs or justice as part of the shake-up.
The trickiest appointment is likely to be the key position of shadow chancellor - which many believe had been earmarked for David Miliband.
His absence may leave the way clear for fellow defeated leadership candidate Mr Balls, who made a thinly-veiled pitch for the job in his speech to conference today.
But there is also the fascinating prospect of further intra-family competition, as Mr Balls' wife, Yvette Cooper, could also be in the running for the Treasury brief.
Meanwhile, there are predictions that Mr Miliband will attempt to ease tensions and disprove his "Red Ed" nickname by elevating some of his brother's Blairite backers.
Jim Murphy, the former Scottish secretary who ran David's campaign, could be in line for a promotion, while Mr Johnson remains one of the party's most popular figures.
Voting takes place between October 4 and 7, with the results being announced that night at 9pm.
Mr Miliband will then hammer out the details of his team before Parliament returns on October 11.
The leader demonstrated his new-found power today when he ensured his preferred candidate was installed as shadow chief whip.
Doncaster Central MP Ms Winterton put herself forward for the role at Mr Miliband's request, while Nick Brown was persuaded not to seek re-election, and Jim Fitzpatrick also agreed to stand aside.
The overwhelming majority of the shadow cabinet candidates have served on the Labour front benches before. However, some - such as Roberta Blackman-Woods and Mary Creagh - have no previous ministerial experience.
Here is the full list of the 49 MPs nominated for election to the shadow cabinet:
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