Yvette Cooper tops the list of Labour MPs in vote for Shadow Cabinet

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Indy Politics

Yvette Cooper topped the poll last night as Labour MPs elected the "new generation" of senior frontbenchers who will serve under the party's new leader, Ed Miliband.

Ms Cooper strengthened her claim to a senior post, possibly as shadow Chancellor, by winning the votes of 232 of the 257 Labour MPs in the Shadow Cabinet elections. She was one of eight women elected by Labour MPs for the 19 places up for grabs. Mr Miliband is expected to announce today which portfolios the winners will get.

John Healey, Labour's housing spokesman and a close ally of Gordon Brown, came a surprise second, finishing above Ed Balls and Andy Burnham, who both contested the party's leadership election.

Labour MPs tipped Mr Balls, who is married to Ms Cooper, to become shadow Home Secretary, while Mr Burnham's fourth place should ensure him a top job.

Diane Abbott, who also stood for the leadership, failed to win a seat in the Shadow Cabinet, winning a disappointing 59 votes.

Three ministers in Mr Brown's cabinet lost their places in Labour's top team – Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary; Shaun Woodward, an ex-Tory MP who was Northern Ireland secretary and Peter Hain, the former Welsh secretary, who backed Mr Miliband as leader. However, Mr Hain may be appointed shadow Welsh secretary because no Welsh MP was elected last night.

Although Labour's rulebook ensures the Shadow Cabinet must include at least six women, Labour MPs exceeded that by choosing eight. The other women elected were Tessa Jowell, the Blairite former culture secretary; Caroline Flint, the former Europe minister; Meg Hillier, an ex-Home Office minister; Mary Creagh; the twins Angela and Maria Eagle and Ann McKechin.

In the Shadow Cabinet as whole, 11 of the 25 posts will be women. The others are Harriet Harman, the deputy leader; Rosie Winterton, the chief whip and Baroness Royall, the shadow Leader of the House of Lords.

Maria Eagle said: "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."

Ten of the 19 elected last night supported David Miliband in the leadership election and only five his brother – Sadiq Khan, the only Shadow Cabinet member from an ethnic minority who is seen as a rising Labour star; Hilary Benn; John Denham; Maria Eagle and Ms McKechin.

David Miliband has decided not to serve in the top team and has returned to the back benches. Jim Murphy, who ran his campaign, won a Shadow Cabinet post and Liam Byrne, another supporter, scraped home in last place with 100 votes, just one ahead of Emily Thornberry. Blairites who failed to win election included Mr Bradshaw, Pat McFadden, Stephen Twigg and Fiona McTaggart.

As well as installing a younger Labour team, the results mean the party now has fewer Scottish representatives at its top table than for many years. Only three MPs representing constituencies north of the border were elected.

Jack Straw, who stood down after 30 years on Labour's front bench, said the system under which MPs choose the top team when the party is in opposition was "barking mad". He said: "What it means is that, of the 18 or 19 people in the Shadow Cabinet, probably a dozen are capable of being in cabinet, half a dozen are not and if and when – and it will be when – we have a Labour government, some of those people who thought this was a kind of meal ticket into the proper cabinet will be sorely disappointed."

Other former Cabinet ministers who have left the front bench include Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, and Bob Ainsworth, the ex-defence secretary.

The team to be named by Ed Miliband will not necessarily form the cabinet if Labour wins the next general election. Labour MPs hold their popularity contest every two years, so a new Shadow Cabinet will be elected in 2012 and 2014.

Last night the Liberal Democrats poured scorn on the idea that Ed Miliband headed a "new generation" of Labour politicians. They said every member of the new Shadow Cabinet served in the Brown government – 11 as cabinet ministers and eight in more junior roles.

Shadow Cabinet poll results

Name/Number of votes/In-Out

Diane Abbott 59

Douglas Alexander 160 In

Ed Balls 179 In

Hilary Benn 128 In

Roberta Blackman-Woods 63

Ben Bradshaw 53

Kevin Brennan 64

Chris Bryant 77

Andy Burnham 165 In

Liam Byrne 100 In

Vernon Coaker 85

Yvette Cooper 232 In

Mary Creagh 119 In

Wayne David 30

John Denham 129 In

Angela Eagle 165 In

Maria Eagle 107 In

Rob Flello 15

Caroline Flint 139 In

Mike Gapes 12

Barry Gardiner 41

Helen Goodman 80

Peter Hain 97

David Hanson 38

Tom Harris 54

John Healey 192 In

Meg Hillier 106 In

Huw Irranca-Davies 28

Kevan Jones 68

Alan Johnson 163 In

Tessa Jowell 152 In

Eric Joyce 10

Barbara Keeley 87

Sadiq Khan 128 In

David Lammy 80

Chris Leslie 26

Ivan Lewis 104 In

Ian Lucas 34

Fiona Mactaggart 88

Pat McFadden 84

Ann McKechin 117 In

Alun Michael 11

Jim Murphy 160 In

Gareth Thomas 71

Emily Thornberry 99

Stephen Timms 79

Stephen Twigg 55

Shaun Woodward 72

Iain Wright 43

New faces: Six rising stars who will march out on to party's frontline

John Healey

It was a surprise to many when Healey pipped Ed Balls to second place. But colleagues were impressed by his thorough job as housing minister, often providing them with tailored briefings they were able to use in their local campaigns. His allies also say that despite once working as Gordon Brown's bag carrier, he was not marked as a Brownite and gained support from across the party.

Caroline Flint

Notoriously fell out with Gordon Brown when the former prime minister refused to give her a place in the Cabinet in his last reshuffle. She has finally made it. Very much seen as a Blairite and has served as a Europe and housing minister. Has also performed well in opposition, attacking the Government's plan to give anonymity to rape suspects.

Sadiq Khan

Had become a popular figure in the Commons and now looks destined for a major promotion having overseen the day-to-day running of Ed Miliband's leadership campaign. Was already acting shadow Transport Secretary after Lord Adonis stepped down from the position. He is likely to be given an even bigger job now. Will become a regular media figure, too.

Ann McKechin

The only female candidate from Scotland will be hot favourite to be appointed shadow Scottish Secretary.

A supporter of Ed Miliband, the former solicitor has long been active in Labour politics in Glasgow. Ms McKechin, 48, served as a junior Scottish Office minister between 2008 and 2010.

Angela Eagle

The second-highest-scoring woman in the contest, she served as a minister for five years under Tony Blair. She was sacked in 2002, but Gordon Brown brought her back to the government five years later.

Ms Eagle, 49, was the first female MP to enter a civil partnership. Her twin sister, Maria, was also elected.

Mary Creagh

With just one year on the Labour front bench (as a whip), the MP for Wakefield since 2005 is the least experienced of the new shadow Cabinet. Mrs Creagh, 42, the former Labour group leader of Islington council, was marked out as one of the stars of her generation by Gordon Brown.