Fantasy Shadow Cabinet, anyone?

Here are some brief and semi-serious suggestions for Ed M from me. Who would you like to see?

The full list of MPs standing for the shadow cabinet has been published — 49 names in all, or roughly a fifth of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

David Miliband has wisely decided to withdraw from the front bench to avoid the media's "perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where there is none, and splits where they don't exist". Jack Dromey, former Labour Party treasurer, new MP and husband of Harriet Harman, isn't running.

But Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney and former Labour leadership contender and PLP lefty, has put her name forward. It's a risky strategy for Diane — she came fifth in the leadership race and isn't the most popular of MPs.

But, of the names we know, here's what I'd do if I was Ed Miliband (assuming these people, below, are even elected!), with some of the jobs (and in no particular order):

Shadow deputy prime minister (new job!) — Alan Johnson

Shadow chancellor — Ed Balls

Shadow foreign secretary — Peter Hain

Shadow home secretary — Sadiq Khan

Shadow health secretary — Andy Burnham

Shadow education secretary — Yvette Cooper

Shadow defence secretary — Eric Joyce

Shadow justice secretary — John Denham

Shadow Cabinet Office minister — David Lammy

Shadow business secretary — Liam Byrne

Shadow communities secretary — Hilary Benn

Shadow work and pensions secretary — Caroline Flint

Shadow energy and climate change secretary — Douglas Alexander

Shadow international development secretary — Jim Murphy

Shadow environment secretary — Emily Thornberry

Shadow transport secretary — John Healey

This is not at all scientific, and lacks the required number of women (!).

Paul Waugh has done his own list here.

So, who would you appoint and what jobs would give them?

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Emmanuel Macron can win - but so can Marine Le Pen

Macron is the frontrunner, but he remains vulnerable to an upset. 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the sixth largest French city aka London today. He’s feeling buoyed by polls showing not only that he is consolidating his second place but that the voters who have put him there are increasingly comfortable in their choice

But he’ll also be getting nervous that those same polls show Marine Le Pen increasing her second round performance a little against both him and François Fillon, the troubled centre-right candidate. Her slight increase, coming off the back of riots after the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man and Macron’s critical comments about the French empire in Algeria is a reminder of two things: firstly the potential for domestic crisis or terror attack to hand Le Pen a late and decisive advantage.  Secondly that Macron has not been doing politics all that long and the chance of a late implosion on his part cannot be ruled out either.

That many of his voters are former supporters of either Fillon or the Socialist Party “on holiday” means that he is vulnerable should Fillon discover a sense of shame – highly unlikely but not impossible either – and quit in favour of a centre-right candidate not mired in scandal. And if Benoît Hamon does a deal with Jean-Luc Mélenchon – slightly more likely that Fillon developing a sense of shame but still unlikely – then he could be shut out of the second round entirely.

What does that all mean? As far as Britain is concerned, a Macron or Fillon presidency means the same thing: a French government that will not be keen on an easy exit for the UK and one that is considerably less anti-Russian than François Hollande’s. But the real disruption may be in the PR battle as far as who gets the blame if Theresa May muffs Brexit is concerned.

As I’ve written before, the PM doesn’t like to feed the beast as far as the British news cycle and the press is concerned. She hasn’t cultivated many friends in the press and much of the traditional rightwing echo chamber, from the press to big business, is hostile to her. While Labour is led from its leftmost flank, that doesn’t much matter. But if in the blame game for Brexit, May is facing against an attractive, international centrist who shares much of the prejudices of May’s British critics, the hope that the blame for a bad deal will be placed solely on the shoulders of the EU27 may turn out to be a thin hope indeed.

Implausible? Don’t forget that people already think that Germany is led by a tough operator who gets what she wants, and think less of David Cameron for being regularly outmanoeuvered by her – at least, that’s how they see it. Don’t rule out difficulties for May if she is seen to be victim to the same thing from a resurgent France.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.