What’s that? Our former health boss, cheerful Alan Johnson, as shadow chancellor and Andy Burnham switched to the education brief, where he has been quick to condemn coalition plans to raise student tuition charges? What was Ed Miliband thinking?
Yes, I was surprised by both appointments. I wanted Handy Andy to stick around and test Andrew Lansley’s risky NHS reforms. I didn’t think Alan Johnson sufficiently hungry - he is 60 - or economically literate to nail crafty George Osborne.
Friends say I am wrong. But what about John Healey? Who he, I hear you cry. What about Labour’s new health team, who they? Indeed. Apart from Liz Kendall (38), new MP for Leicester West, her old boss Patricia Hewitt’s seat, they do not have much health on their CVs.
Healey (50) is not a charismatic figure, but widely liked. He came second after Yvette Cooper (195 votes to her 232) in the shadow cabinet ballot, with Mr Cooper - aka Ed Balls - third (179) and Burnham (165) fourth. A junior minister in education, housing and Gordon Brown’s Treasury team, this will be the Wentworth MP’s - he beat Cooper to the nomination in 1997 - first high profile role.
Why did Miliband appoint him? He has not told me. But I guess it will reflect Healey’s enthusiasm for policy detail - so he will get stuck into the NHS - but also his enthusiasm for campaigning. During the 6 May campaign this ex-union official and disability rights campaigner would regularly ring novice candidates like Kendall to offer facts and figures.
In other words Miliband wants the debate - or battle - taken to the country, not just Westminster. That also makes sense of Diane Abbott (no introduction needed here!) getting the public health brief. At 57, an MP since 1987, Abbott is the grandma of the team, a perpetual anti-Blair backbencher and bit of a media groupie.
I confess I have always liked her (she laughs a lot), but not approved of her populist, soft options approach, a leftie and a grandee. But MPs tell me their Hackney North colleague has been on a “long journey” and is ready for responsibility. She will have to work harder: it is a tough job.
Where this Cambridge educated (Healey and Kendall also went there) daughter of Jamaican immigrants and a Ken Livingstone protégée could make a difference is in addressing health inequalities among migrant groups. We will see.
Diane once complained “blonde, blue eyed Finnish” nurses should not be allowed to work with black NHS patients as they had never met any.
“But this year’s Miss Finland is half Nigerian,” she was reminded.
Kendall, you know about. Ex-NHS Confederation, ex-King’s Fund researcher, IPPR think tanker, a special adviser to Hewitt and Hattie Harman, she will provide health policy ballast while the others catch up. Derek Twigg (41) is a former employment civil servant, MP for Halton in his native Widnes since 1997 and - like Healey - a junior minister for much of the past decade.
Transport, education and defence - where he was responsible for veterans - Twigg votes the loyalist ticket from Iraq and ID cards to those controversial anti-terror laws. So Ed Miliband, who seems to have quietly opposed all three (he was not even an MP for most of the time) may have to send him to a re-education camp.
Last but not least is Emily Thornberry (50). Raised on a Guildford council estate but now a human rights barrister married to a judge and MP for darkest Islington South, she lives in Tony Blair’s old street, but voted against 90-day detention and Trident renewal. I have just heard Tory David Davis taking her apart on Radio 4’s Today. But they will learn.