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49 MPs in race for frontbench post

The battle for jobs in Ed Miliband's top team has kicked off in earnest with 49 Labour MPs putting themselves forward.

Those seeking election to the shadow cabinet range from household names such as Alan Johnson and Ed Balls to relatively obscure backbenchers.

Details released by Labour also disclosed that Rosie Winterton was the only candidate for party chief whip after Mr Miliband exerted his new authority by suggesting other contenders withdraw.

The departure of some of Labour's biggest beasts - including David Miliband, Lord Mandelson, Alistair Darling and Jack Straw - has left opportunities for fresh faces.

But with just 19 spaces available, the majority of applicants will end up disappointed.

Under Labour rules, its MPs vote to decide who should be in the shadow cabinet when the party is in opposition. A minimum quota of six women has been imposed as part of efforts to promote equality.

However, the leader can still choose which specific jobs individuals receive.

Close allies of Ed Miliband are expected to be the biggest winners in the process, with his leadership campaign manager and former transport minister Sadiq Khan tipped for a bigger role.

Former ministers Caroline Flint and sisters Angela and Maria Eagle are among the women nominated - while left-winger Diane Abbott is a wild-card entrant after her leadership bid.

As the elected deputy leader, Harriet Harman does not need any further endorsement from her colleagues, but there are suggestions she could be rewarded with a major brief such as health after a solid stint covering in the top job.

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