Public Affairs: Soap box - Chris Rumfitt, MD, public affairs, Edelman

The Labour leadership contest has not been the most inspiring of spectacles.

Those who persuaded the party to extend it to more than four months must be regretting that decision.

What a missed opportunity it has been that the party's heaviest hitters have been trailing around draughty town halls all summer, rather than attacking the Government.

For business, the most interesting - and alarming - point to note has been the extent to which some of the key architects of New Labour have lurched to the left, advocating ideas that would have been anathema to the Government in which they served.

While much of this is political positioning in a leadership election in which union members have one-third of the votes, they need to remember the rest of the country is watching and the party needs to avoid a return to the days of being seen as anti-aspiration.

So, what should business do? The answer is easy - engage with them.

Once the leader is announced, all policies will be up for review.

If companies engage fully, the pro-business stance adopted for 13 years in government can still endure, whatever is said on the campaign trail. And remember, Labour needs only a small swing to win the next election.

With the Lib Dems looking increasingly uneasy in the coalition, the next Labour Government may not be as far away as you think.

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