New Labour leader Ed Miliband has surprised ally and critic alike by appointing Alan Johnson to be his Shadow Chancellor.

The job, arguably the most important in the Shadow Cabinet, after Leader of the Opposition, was widely expected to go to Ed Balls, who is long believed to have coveted the job, or his wife Yvette Cooper.

The appointment of either Balls or Cooper however would have had their drawbacks.

While Mr Balls has considerable interest and experience in forming economic policy he is widely regarded as something of an ogre in both the Labour and Conservative Parties and may not have been the friendly face that Labour is looking for to be the counter to their picture of Chancellor George Osborne as the heartless swinger of the axe.

Ms Cooper however was viewed as being more presentable than her husband, but appointing her may have caused tension between the political couple, the last thing that Labour need after the conflict (friendly or otherwise) between the Miliband brothers for the leadership.

In the end Ed Miliband went for Alan Johnson, the former Home Secretary. Mr Johnson has said relatively little about economic matters during his time near the top of politics, suggesting that he will be more likely to follow the line taken by Ed Miliband and the Shadow Cabinet, rather than setting out his own policies as Gordon Brown was more wont to do.

He is also considered to be relatively popular among the country and was even touted as a possible successor to Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party or Prime Minister at one point. However he said he was not interested in the top job, suggesting that he will also be loyal to Mr Miliband in a way that perhaps Mr Brown was not towards Tony Blair.