Shadow health secretary. NEW ENTRY

It’s probably fair to say that most in the health service only became aware of John Healey when he was appointed shadow health secretary.

Clearly well thought of by his fellow Labour MPs, he was promoted into government after just one term as MP for the Yorkshire seat of Wentworth (now Wentworth and Dearne). He has ministerial experience at housing, and past roles include financial secretary to the Treasury, and under secretary of state for adult skills.

Politically, he’s regarded as moderate and modernising and likes to mention “the squeezed middle”, but he has a solid union background and backed Ed Balls for leader. As a young man he worked in the voluntary sector for MIND and RADAR. He may be popular, but he is not gaffe-proof: Earlier this year, he suggested that for some, having a home repossessed might be “the best option”.

His tactics in opposing the vastly experienced Andrew Lansley will be a mix of populist attacks on cuts with more forensic enquiries into the detail of policy. The health secretary is said to be “a fan” of Mr Healey’s mature approach to politics. That view may be tested in 2011.