However, women MPs were resentful at the five top posts going to men. Ann Clwyd, who had to settle for Wales, said: 'I would have liked to see women have some of the very high profile jobs, and that still hasn't happened.'
Gordon Brown, rated one of Labour's best destroyers, takes on Norman Lamont as shadow Chancellor; Jack Cunningham faces Douglas Hurd as shadow Foreign Secretary; and Tony Blair is to tangle with Kenneth Clarke at the Home Office.
Sparks look set to fly with the appointment of the acerbic Robin Cook to face the flowing certainties of Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade. As with the other top posts, Frank Dobson, who came fourth in the ballot, also got the job he wanted - employment spokesman. He is expected to show a subtler side to his sometimes bruising approach when he opposes Gillian Shephard in the Commons.
Harriet Harman becomes shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury - normally a less important Opposition task in the early part of a parliament, but now given a sharp profile by the deep spending cuts sought by the Government and the high personal profile of Michael Portillo, her opposite number.
Ann Taylor takes education opposite John Patten - a key area where the Conservatives have gained on what is traditionally seen as Labour ground, while Mo Mowlam, initially understood to have been offered the women's portfolio, combines that with tackling William Waldegrave over the Citizen's Charter. She is expected to hammer home Labour's demand that the private sector should face charter-like demands.
Margaret Beckett becomes shadow Leader of the House and campaigns co-ordinator.
There were signs of resentment among some MPs last night at Mr Cunningham, a long-time ally of Mr Smith's, becoming shadow Foreign Secretary after coming only 12th in the ballot. His backers see him as a safe pair of hands with Maastricht high on the political agenda.
Mr Smith said his Shadow Cabinet was more than a match for the Government. The quality of the five women elected had been given 'proper recognition' in the posts allocated.
Donald Dewar, for nine years Labour's spokesman on Scotland and a wily politician with a lawyer's grasp of detail, moves to social security - a post with heightened significance given Mr Smith's desire for a 'second Beveridge' through his planned Commission on Social Justice. Radical thinking will require a politician of Mr Dewar's resolve to take the knocks from within the trade union movement. Environment has been split, Jack Straw returning to the brief where he was once an adviser to face Michael Howard on local government and housing; Chris Smith, a new Shadow Cabinet entrant, will tackle the green issues. David Blunkett, another debutante, is perhaps the biggest gainer with the high-profile health portfolio, opposite Virginia Bottomley. Yesterday he said the 'damaging aspects of the Tory agenda' must be challenged, but that Labour must produce 'alternatives which fit the realities'.
David Clark, formerly agriculture, takes defence, with Bryan Gould choosing to take on David Mellor at National Heritage, from a range of jobs he was offered. John Prescott was also offered a choice but staysin place, keeping transport for a year to tackle the Government's privatisation of British Rail.
The one potential loser looked to be Michael Meacher, who goes from social security to overseas development, a portfolio that suffers from having no Cabinet minister in the Commons to oppose.
Outside the elected Shadow Cabinet, Ron Davies takes on agriculture while Kevin McNamara retains Northern Ireland.
TOM CLARKE: A soft-spoken Scot, he has been MP for the predominantly Catholic constituency of Monklands West since 1983. This is the neighbouring seat to John Smith.
His interests include foreign affairs, health and social services. He is also an amateur film-maker. The 51-year-old MP is regarded as a moderate. He is seen as amiable, concerned, sensitive and can be trusted.
He was a one-time social services frontbencher. But as a backbencher he was able to get his Disabled Persons Bill on the statute book after he came top in the private members' ballot. In doing so he resisted pressure to run an anti- abortion Bill.
Mr Clarke is secretary of the cross- party United Nations group, a former chair of the parliamentary Labour Party's foreign affairs committee and he was on the Archbishop of Canterbury's mission to Iran to free the Beirut hostages.
HARRIET HARMAN: She mixes the female face of Labour with steely determination. She has been MP for Peckham since 1982, shadow health minister since 1987, and was elected to joint sixth place in the Shadow Cabinet despite putting down a group of northern MPs who were barracking her call for reform of Commons hours at a recent party meeting with the jibe 'you are the past'.
Ms Harman has a fierce sense of her own rightness and is a tenacious campaigner but can be inflexible and sometimes too trusting. Forty-two next week, she is married to Jack Dromey, a TGWU official, and the couple have three children. She was the first Labour frontbencher to take maternity leave.
She was an outstanding legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties before becoming an MP, and is highly rated, particularly among Labour's new intake of women.
DAVID BLUNKETT: A passionate, pragmatic voice from Labour's grass- roots, a background he remains determined never to forget. An MP for whom the label 'soft left' might have been invented, he made his reputation as leader of Sheffield City Council and confirmed it in Parliament over the poll tax. While still a councillor he became the first non-MP in 40 years to be elected to the national executive.
The 45-year-old MP is seen as a bridge-builder. One of his biggest attributes is that people forget that he is blind. He has a ferocious capacity for work and combines self-assurance with an ability to recognise his flaws.
He was a key figure in the expulsion of Militant, paving the way for Neil Kinnock's reforms of the party. He also ran Bryan Gould's leadership campaign. Mr Blunkett has a phenomenal memory and is an innovative safeguarder of community politics for Labour.
CHRIS SMITH: One of Labour's brightest MPs who was first elected to represent Islington South in 1983. Courteous, precise and numerate, he is a keen rock climber and mountain walker (unlike John Smith he has collected all the Munros - the 277 peaks over 3,000ft (914m) that the Labour leader started on after his heart attack).
Formerly a holder of the Treasury portfolio, the 41-year-old MP is shrewd and effective in committees and the Commons. He is the only MP to have declared openly his homosexuality.
A former Cambridge Union president, he was chief whip and housing chairman of Islington council in its rockier days. He is strong on civil liberties, freedom of information and taking up individual cases.
He is also an opponent of violence for political ends - a position he expressed to Gerry Adams, the former Sinn Fein MP, and during the Gulf war.
MARJORIE MOWLAM: Talented, outgoing and intelligent former City spokesperson; one of those who believes Labour needs big changes after its fourth election defeat.
A fast riser with an American PhD, she was elected only in 1987 as MP for Redcar, but was on the front bench as an assistant Northern Ireland spokesperson within a year and became deputy campaign co-ordinator for the 1989 European election, in which Labour was highly successful.
Gutsy and extrovert at 42, she is a football and hockey player who holds strong opinions and tends to speak her mind. She is respected across the floor of the Commons and an improving performer in television interviews.
She is regarded as strong on civil liberties and was brave enough to support the return of Dr Marietta Higgs after the Cleveland child sex abuse controversy.