Miliband wants Yvette not her husband for Chancellor
The Mole: But most believe she's not as ruthless as Miliband - leaving him with a dangerous game to play
How many families is Ed Miliband aiming to trample over in his efforts to put together a new Labour front bench? Having put his own ambition ahead of family niceties to run against his brother David - successfully if flukily - for the Labour leadership, he's now risking a further family 'pscycho-drama' with the key appointment of shadow Chancellor.
The family concerned is that of Ed Balls, former Schools Secretary, and his wife Yvette Cooper, former Work and Pensions Secretary. Crucially both are former financial journalists, both have held senior jobs at the Treasury in recent years, and both have the credentials to be shadow Chancellor.
But if Ed Balls thought he was a shoo-in, having sought the job ever since Gordon Brown moved out to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister, he is mistaken.
The word is out that Ed Miliband would prefer Yvette for the role. Why? Because Balls's very public pronouncements against the coalition government's draconian spending cuts would box Miliband into a corner. He needs wriggle-room, and Balls won't allow him any.
Miliband - like the rest of us - witnessed Blair and Brown at loggerheads and doesn't want to be cursed by a similarly nightmarish relationship.
So how does Ed Miliband get his way?
Here's a scenario put to the Mole by an old Labour lag. Crucial is the fact that the shadow cabinet members are elected by the party. The party leader can make his own appointments - but only to those chosen in the ballot.
To deny Ed Balls the post just like that would be living very dangerously. Balls has been magnanimous in defeat, and, let's not forget, it was his votes which, once transferred to Ed, enabled the younger Miliband to sneak past his brother last Saturday and grab the prize.
The ballot is very much a popularity contest and Yvette Cooper is expected to come top when the results are announced at the end of next week.
But what if Yvette was to come top easily? What if her support was to be miles ahead of her husband's? Would it not be reasonable to make her shadow Chancellor and effective number two?
The answer is, of course, yes. Which is why - according to the Mole's old lag - the phone lines will be humming this weekend with Ed's supporters urging a good turnout for Yvette.
Whether Yvette Cooper has the chutzpah - as Ed obviously has - to put her ambition over her husband's long-held ambition to be Chancellor, is another matter. Many in the party believe she is not prepared to trample over his dreams.
But, again, if the ballot support for her is overwhelming, she might be persuaded.
But whichever way this plays out, Ed Miliband needs to be careful. This is the kind of battle new party leaders must win. If you are going to pick a fight, you have to win it. ·
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