Peter Hoskin

Waiting for the shadow cabinet

Waiting for the shadow cabinet
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You can say what you like about Labour's penchant for internal elections, but at least it makes for good, political entertainment. Tonight, the results of the shadow cabinet elections will be released, and we'll discover which of the 49 nominees made it into the final 19. Then it will fall to Ed Miliband to force some very square pegs into the round holes on his party's front bench. Good luck with that, Mr Miliband.

According to most observers, Yvette Copper is favourite to come top – a forecast supported by a readers' poll published on Left Foot Forward today. In the same poll, Ed Balls finished second. It rather encapsulates the toughest choice facing Ed Miliband: who to pick as shadow chancellor? Cooper offers the same economic prospectus as her husband, but puts a sweeter coating on it. Whereas an alternative candidate (but who?) might wrestle Labour free from yet another family psychodrama.

In any case – and as we said in a recent leader article – Balls is sure to remain a prominent and divisive figure on the political landscape. Although the Tories are denying that there was any real significance behind it, it was still striking that he was the only Labour MP mentioned in David Cameron's speech yesterday. The former schools secretary may not have the right skills for government – but he's got them in abundance for the trench warfare of opposition.

UPDATE: Here's Ladbrokes' top five for the shadow chancellorship. As I've suggested before, I think Liam Byrne is the best option for Labour (that letter notwithstanding) - but he's said to have ruled himself out.

Ed Balls --- evens

Yvette Cooper --- 6/4

Andy Burnham --- 7/1

Douglas Alexander --- 10/1

Liam Byrne --- 16/1