Drawing on American football annals for an analogy that works for British politics may seem a stretch for some of you, but stay with me here. In 1916, Georgia Tech faced a college from Tennessee called Cumberland in a football match that lives on in infamy. It will become clear why this is.
Cumberland had beaten Georgia Tech in a baseball game the previous year, 22-0. For those who don’t know anything about baseball, that’s a bit like beating someone 22-0 in an association football match. Georgia Tech wanted to get even and challenged Cumberland to a rematch on the American football gridiron which was foolishly accepted.
Despite having to assemble a team from nothing, Cumberland’s head coach, George Allen, was quietly confident. Perhaps it was the 22-0 baseball score that had given him this misplaced idea. He said before the game that he had invented a revolutionary new way of calling plays that would give his players the advantage they needed over the more developed Georgia Tech team.
Then came the match itself. Georgia Tech won by a staggering final score of 222-0. For those who know little about American football, this is a bit like beating someone 222-0 in a rugby match. However bad the other side is, just having the time to score 222 points is tricky. It is, unsurprisingly, the largest score ever recorded in the history of American football.
Labour reminds me of Cumberland and Corbyn of their much too confident gaffer George Allen. And they are headed for a similar level of slaughter come the day. There are large differences though, even I have to admit that. At least George Allen never managed another football game ever again for he rest of his life; Corbyn has already announced that regardless of the margin of defeat on June 8th, he intends to remain leader of the Labour Party. Cumberland also immediately halted their football programme entirely in the shadow of that awful defeat; Labour will limp on with Corbyn at the helm, more awful defeats to come. Defeats in politics, as in life, are bearable if we learn from them and move on. It’s when this doesn’t occur that real tragedy happens.