As George has noted, we got the results earlier than 9pm and there are some surprise results (Peter Hain’s failure to make the 19) and some expected results (Yvette Cooper topped the poll).
Some initial observations and random thoughts:
* The top three are all members of Team Balls – Balls himself, his wife, Yvette Cooper, and the former housing minister John Healey. MPs backing Balls were decisive in swinging the leadership election to Ed Miliband in the fourth round and have now had a huge influence on the shadow cabinet election.
* Of the top ten, as the ToryPressHQ Twitter feed has mischievously noted, not a single MP put Ed Miliband down as his or her first choice in the leadership election.
* Of the “gang of four” – the quartet of ex-cabinet ministers who backed Ed Miliband – three managed to get elected (John Denham, Sadiq Khan and Hilary Benn) and one (Peter Hain) did not. How will the Labour leader reward the three who survived, if at all? And poor Peter Hain . . .
* There was much fuss about the recent rule change guaranteeing six elected seats in the shadow cabinet to female MPs – in the end, eight of the 19 turned out to be women. As George points out, once you throw in Harriet Harman (deputy leader), Rosie Winterton (the new chief whip) and Baroness Royall (shadow leader of the Lords), “the shadow cabinet contains 11 women (out of 25), not far off Harriet Harman’s original target of a 50:50 split”.
* Eric Joyce came bottom with ten votes; Emily Thornberry missed out by one vote (getting 99 compared to Liam Byrne’s 100 – the latter scraped in, 19th).
* The twins Angela and Maria Eagle have both been elected to the shadow cabinet. So, despite the departure of David Miliband from front-line politics, Labour’s front bench still has a pair of siblings to match the Balls-Cooper husband-wife combo.
* The campaign for Yvette Cooper to be appointed shadow chancellor gathers pace: after a brilliant week in which she skewered George Osborne on his child benefit cut and his benefits cap, Mrs Balls did not just top the shadow cabinet election, she won it by a 40-vote margin over second-placed John Healey and secured the votes of 232 out of 258 Labour MPs. Impressive!
* There had been some suggestions yesterday that Ed Miliband would wait till Monday to announce who would be getting what job but I’ve been told that the decision will be “tomorrow”.
My own view has always been that the biggest job of all, the shadow chancellorship, should go to Ed Balls. I still think that would be the right thing to do, but some Labour sources have suggested to me that it might not go to either Mr or Mrs Balls. I think that’d be a mistake – and I’m not sure who’s next in line. It wouldn’t suit Alan Johnson. Jim Murphy?
Ed Mili – over to you.