There are some in the media who treat the Labour leadership campaign as some strange alternative story from the main drama of government and people. They did the same to the Conservatives during much of our period in opposition.
Who is Leader of the Opposition always matters. The Country will need a choice at the next election, and when the election draws nearer the Leader of the main challenger party naturally gets more attention and becomes more interesting.
The Leader of the Opposition with the Shadow Cabinet also determines some of the business of the Commons through Opposition day debates, and can always set the main political conversation point through having 6 questions each week at Prime Minister’s Questions, which in turn feeds the media.
The next Leader of the Opposition has an additional relevance as well as being a future possible PM whose importance only rises if he or she gets the Labour Party high enough in the polls to be a possible winner. As soon as the new Leader is elected he or she will have to decide whether our country bombs Syria or not. The PM has no majority to do it if Labour opposes the government, but is likely to do it and can do it if Labour is on a three line whip to abstain or to support the bombing.
Then there is the pressing question of what does Labour want by way of change in our EU relationship? Again the Leader’s view will have an immediate influence on what the government asks for and recommends. The decision of Labour to support or oppose continued membership will have influence on a crucial referendum.
There is the question of welfare reform. Whilst the government can probably get its way on what it wants despite a small majority, the task is much easier if Labour abstain or support the main thrust of the proposals to make it more worthwhile for people to work.
Mr Corbyn as Leader would presumably vote against military intervention in Syria. He seems to have diluted his sceptical views about current EU policy and may now wish to support continued membership whatever the outcome of the negotiations. If so it means all 4 Labour leadership contenders will be passive on the EU issue, declining to demand sensible improvements and indicating before the negotiations are settled that they will vote to stay in. In so doing they make a successful negotiation less likely and continue their long tradition of denying the significance of EU matters. Mr Corbyn will doubtless oppose most welfare reforms, and will seek to drag the political debate to the left.
Our democracy needs a strong and sensible Leader of the Opposition. Labour still is out to lunch on the main issue of our day, our relationship to the emerging political union on the continent.