Simon Carr's verdict on the new shadow cabinet

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Yvette Cooper: shadow Foreign Secretary



Opposite Number: William Hague


Yvette Cooper topped the poll. Practically everyone voted for her.

She's achieved a sudden saintliness – as if it were quite forgotten, the sheer unremitting relentlessness of her, that we see on television interviews.

She wasn't allowed an attack department. She could have gorged on Osborne's, and what a feast she would have made of Andrew Lansley (the offal alone!).

But for a year or two she will be a rose blowing in the desert. The Foreign Office is very far from the front line. The travel may be a problem for her young children – but these things can be managed. It's a rest cure for politicians.

Was it the best use of the Ballses? It's the only chance Ed Miliband has to neutralise them. First things first. Party management comes before making the opposition oppose.

It may be a three-act comedy rather than a five-act tragedy.

Ed Balls: shadow Home Secretary

Opposite Number: Theresa May

He will have his revenge in this life or the next. The Treasury is Ed Balls's by right, by training, temperament, experience and aptitude. He would be a man o' the people opposing and attacking a sneering, snuff-taking, 18th-century Secretary of the Hell Fire Club. It's a match made in heaven.

Instead, he is assigned to a role against a woman. Kryptonite! He won't be able to use the bellowing, overbearing, two-fisted, two fingered approach that is uniquely his. Or if he does, it will count against him, for all the talk of equality we hear.

He also has to formulate an immigration policy for the conservative white working-class. To which observers can only say: "Har har har."

He can't turn over in bed without rippling the political forcefield. If the economy deteriorates (and he must be praying for a double-dip recession to unleash unemployment) there will be those who increasingly look to him as a leader-in-exile.

Alan Johnson: shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Opposite Number: George Osborne.

Alan Johnson! What was the question again? In the top 10 of the Shadow Cabinet, five didn't vote for Ed Miliband at all, not with any of their votes. Four put him third. One voted for Ed Balls.

The leader is far from being among friends. So: who could be shadow Chancellor without rivalling or undermining the leader? Someone who the public will like, and who will follow instructions? Is it a weak or strong appointment? It is certainly daring. The spending review in a couple of weeks is the biggest data mountain of recent times. It's a big bet that amiable Alan will handle it with all necessary confidence in a packed House of Commons.

Harriet Harman: deputy leader

Opposite Number: Nick Clegg.

Deputy leader for life. She may make it hereditary and pass it on to her children.

Andy Burnham: shadow Secretary of State for Education

Opposite Number: Michael Gove.

May have the ability to make Michael Gove look competent. He's a one-in-a-1,000 sort of politician.

Rosie Winterton: Chief Whip

Opposite Number: Patrick McLoughlin.

A velvet fist in a velvet glove. Has all the persuasive powers of Fenella Fielding c 1985.

John Healey: shadow Secretary of State for Health

Opposite Number: Andrew Lansley.

Assiduously inconspicuous. Marked resemblance to Leonard Rossiter. Voted for Balls.

Angela Eagle: shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Opposite Number: Danny Alexander.

Would be the greater of two Eagles but lacks a department. Beat her boss by two votes.

Douglas Alexander: shadow Secretary of State for Works and Pensions

Opposite Number: Iain Duncan Smith.

Spurned by Brownites and misvoted in the leadership elections. Not a bad result for the increasingly lonely Scot.

Jim Murphy: shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Opposite Number: Liam Fox.

Tall, popular, attractive.

Tessa Jowell: shadow minister for the Olympics

Opposite Number: Hugh Robertson.

Still around. Has transferred her unswerving loyalty from the Blairs to the more reliable Olympics.

Caroline Flint: shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Opposite Number: Eric Pickles.

Most famous as window dressing. Not entirely fair: she is perfectly capable.

Ann McKechin: shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Opposite Number: Michael Moore.

Shall we bomb Iran – or the Swat Valley? Ann, what do you think?

John Denham: shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Opposite Number: Vince Cable.

Stays firmly in the second tier. A great loss to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Hilary Benn: shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Opposite Number: Sir George Young.

He persists in taking up space that might be better occupied by, say, Roberta Blackman-Woods.

Sadiq Khan: shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Opposite Number: Ken Clarke.

His genius he puts into his hair.

Mary Creagh: shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Opposite Number: Caroline Spelman.

Nothing is known of her. But she may vote to reduce a third-world country to rubble. Such is democracy.

Maria Eagle: shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Opposite Number: Philip Hammond.

Could the recent fratricidal drama inspire one twin against the other? The answer is very probably No.

Meg Hillier: shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Opposite Number: Chris Huhne.

A wolverine hitherto restrained by her minister's choke chain. Now she is off the leash. And she is hungry. Very promising appointment.

Ivan Lewis: shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Opposite Number: Jeremy Hunt.

Bit of a maverick. Can we hope for nudity and adult language over his dispatch box?

Liam Byrne: shadow minister for the Cabinet Office

Opposite Number: Oliver Letwin.

His greatest achievement to date? Keeping the purring Emily Thornberry out of the shadow Cabinet.

Also in the shadow Cabinet:

The Chief Whip in the Lords is Lord Bassam of Brighton.

The shadow Attorney General is Baroness Scotland.

The shadow minister of state for the Cabinet Office is Jon Trickett.

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