Labour leader Ed Miliband was hammering out the details of his top team last night, with Yvette Cooper installed as red-hot favourite to become shadow chancellor.
The former Work and Pensions Secretary comfortably topped the secret ballot of MP colleagues to decide who should head up their attack on the coalition, followed by ex-Housing Minister John Healey and her husband Ed Balls.
Two former Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland — Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward — were among the losers who failed to make it into Mr Miliband’s shadow cabinet.
Despite strongly backing Mr Miliband in the leadership contest, Mr Hain became the biggest casualty, his 97 votes leaving him short by just three votes.
Mr Woodward, who defected from the Tories in 1999, offered congratulations to colleagues after polling 72 votes.
“I am grateful for those who gave me their support and my constituents in St Helens who have always been encouraging and supportive,” he said.
A number of familiar figures from the previous Government crashed out, including ex-Cabinet member Ben Bradshaw, who performed badly with just 53 backers. Defeated leadership candidate Diane Abbott also failed to gain enough support.
Under Labour rules, when the party is in opposition its MPs vote every two years to decide who should be in the shadow cabinet.
Alan Johnson, Andy Burnham, Jim Murphy and John Denham were among the big names safely returned, along with Mr Miliband's leadership campaign manager Sadiq Khan. A minimum quota of six women had also been imposed as part of efforts to promote equality.
However, that figure was exceeded, with the Parliamentary party returning eight in total — including Caroline Flint, who quit Gordon Brown's Government in 2008 complaining that female ministers were being treated as “window dressing”.
Ex-Cabinet Office Minister Tessa Jowell retains her status, while twin sisters Angela and Maria Eagle, a former junior NIO minister, have been promoted to the top team, as have Meg Hillier and Ann McKechin.
Mary Creagh enters the shadow cabinet despite never having served on the front bench before.
Rosie Winterton had already been appointed shadow chief whip after Mr Miliband ensured she was nominated unopposed.