Labour's top political power couple, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, will seek to seize the political agenda this week with a series of attacks on the coalition, accusing it of putting political ideology before economic stability and national security.
The new shadow Chancellor and shadow Home Secretary hope to put behind them Alan Johnson's shock resignation, triggered by allegations about his wife's affair with a former bodyguard, and refocus attention on their coalition opponents. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is confident a series of government announcements on economic growth, banking and counter-terrorism will give his new top team an early opportunity to take ministers to task.
The husband-and-wife team will juggle family life, raising their three children, with serving their constituencies, touring Labour grass-roots meetings to inspire re-election efforts and taking on two of the most high-profile roles on the opposition benches – all without the support staff and extra salary, enjoyed when both served in the Cabinet.
Only four days after being handed her new role, Ms Cooper will make her debut at shadow Home Secretary. National security, immigration and the impact of cuts on police numbers are certain to dominate.
Ms Cooper hit out yesterday at the delays and political wrangling over changes to terror legislation including control orders, which the Lib Dems have pledged to abolish against the advice of the security services. The system of curfews is expected to be relaxed, and some restrictions on using computers and mobile phones will be retained.
Ms Cooper told The Independent on Sunday: "There's clearly a political row going on with Liberal Democrats and Conservatives saying different things, yet none of the briefing is based on the actual evidence and conclusions of the review.
"National security is, and must continue to be, the foremost responsibility of the Government, and one that should draw cross-party support."
The backroom wrangling meant the controversial powers to detain terror suspects without charge for 28 days were allowed to lapse. The limit will revert to 14 days from tomorrow, but Ms May is not due to give full details of the Government's sweeping reform of terror laws until Wednesday.
The shadow Home Secretary said she would press the Government "every step of the way" to do the right thing based on the evidence for the country's security, "rather than for their own internal political reasons".
Her comments were echoed by Mr Balls, who accuses the Chancellor, George Osborne, of putting "political ideology or expediency before economic logic" by ordering major cuts in public spending. As a result, the country risks paying "a heavy price".
Mr Balls has finally landed the job he coveted, and has committed himself to Mr Miliband's economic plan to halve the deficit within four years. Yesterday, Mr Balls blogged: "We do not oppose every cut, but the Tory-led government is cutting too far too fast. Over the coming weeks and months, we will hold them to account for the reckless gamble they have taken, and the historic mistake they have made."
Mr Balls has now accepted the Labour policy position to stand by the Alistair Darling plan to halve the deficit in four years, exactly two months before the Budget. Party strategists hope the move will allow Mr Miliband and his s hadow Chancellor to present a united front.
The Labour leader insisted yesterday he would not allow his relationship with Mr Balls to repeat the "soap opera" of the Blair-Brown era. He told The Scotsman: "We know that while there was brilliance to it, it was also damaging. We will work closely together. We are very closely aligned."
Bookmaker William Hill cut its odds on Ed Balls becoming next Labour leader from 25/1 to 14/1.Reuse content