Who would have thought that a milkshake being thrown over a neo fascist could be condemned as being on a par with a terror attack? But that’s what some people would have you believe after a recent spate of such incidents over the past couple of weeks. The recipients of these hurled milk products have been extreme right-wing Brexiteers from UKIP and the Brexit Party. It was becoming so frequent that police forces were trying to ban the sales of milk shakes in areas where candidates from these parties were campaigning in the European elections. It all culminated with the abominable Nigel Farage – a recent victim of a milk shake dousing – apparently refusing to leave his campaign bus until a group of students clutching milk shakes were dispersed. It’s astounding how much media comment these incidents have generated. Even more astounding is the vehemence with which the milk shake throwers have been condemned in some quarters. Farage, for instance, described his ‘attacker’ as ‘radicalised’, clearly trying to draw a comparison with Isis terrorists. Plenty of other, generally pompous, politicians and commentators have similarly weighed in, trying to tell us that throwing milk shakes over politicians somehow heralds the end of democracy. Some have even, bizarrely, tried to draw parallels with the murder of Jo Cox, contending that throwing milk shakes encourages violent attacks against politicians.
Quite what the causal link between these things might be, is always left unexplained. Are we honestly to believe that just because people get away with throwing a milk shake over a fascist, then next time they’ll throw something worse over them. Presumably incited into this heinous act by some leftie comedian appearing on the BBC who jokes about throwing battery acid at Nigel Farage. The joke Jo Brand was condemned for by the likes of Farage and the right-wing press did. However, make a valid point. Namely, why don’t these people throw battery acid at politicians? After all, it is as readily available as milk shakes, as are things like bleach and other corrosive substances sold in supermarkets as cleaning products. Not only are they readily available, but they are also cheaper than the kind of milk shakes currently being thrown at politicians. (I ask you, over five quid for a milk shake, which you then waste throwing at a turd like Farage). The point being, of course, is that if these people had wanted to do real harm to their targets, they could and would have. But they didn’t. They chose to throw a milk shake, not acid. As for trying to draw parallels with Jo Cox, that really is offensive – she was murdered by a right-wing fanatic who targeted her with the express intent to kill, not by a left-wing activist out to simply embarrass a pompous right wing prick.
The fact is that hurling a milk shake over a politician is, generally speaking, pretty funny. It is also pretty harmless and part of a long tradition in the UK of throwing stuff at politicians, In recent years the egg has become favoured. Now, I have grave reservations about throwing eggs at people – they can actually do some damage, especially if hard boiled. In the seventies the tomato was the favoured projectile for throwing at politicians. It is pretty much ideal: soft enough that it won’t do any damage to the person, but satisfyingly explodes on impact. leaving a livid red ‘splat’ and hard to remove stains. Obviously, the level of humour to be derived from throwing anything at or over a politician is very much dependent, not just upon one’s political sympathies, but also their character. Let’s face it, seeing someone as pompous (not to mention unpleasant) as Farage spattered with milk shake is hilarious – it totally destroys the aura of gravitas he is trying to project. Smashing an egg on Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, just doesn’t seem as funny, looking, as it does, too much like an assault on a pensioner. (Pelting him with tomatoes from his own allotment, however, would be hysterically funny).
As already discussed, the idea that throwing stuff at politicians could lead to actual violence is pretty ludicrous. Violent attacks on politicians are generally the result of an atmosphere of hatred and contempt engendered by the violent rhetoric of right wing rabble rousers. Let’s not forget that Farage himself frequently invokes violent imagery, with his references to taking up arms if Brexit isn’t delivered, or raising the spectre of civil unrest if judges don’t rule in his favour. So, he should probably think himself lucky that his opponents confine themselves to throwing harmless milk-based beverages at him, rather than punches. But, like many right-wing bullies, Farage is surprisingly thin-skinned and apparently incapable of accepting any form of ridicule, let alone satire. Only recently, he started huffing and puffing with outrage over the fact that a character in a Channel Four sitcom, a right-wing racist rabble rouser called Neil Fromage, was shown being assassinated. Obviously, this was yet another attempt by media lefties to incite violence against Nigel Farage – in the addled mind of Farage, that is.
The fact that it is set in Victorian times and stars Matt Berry, therefore meaning that nobody is going to take it seriously, doesn’t come into it as far as Farage is concerned. In his mind, satire is as much of an assault on his person as having a milk shake thrown over him. But, to some extent, there is method in this madness. By continually whipping up outrage over protests against right wing extremists, whether that protest takes the form of milk shake throwing or satire, the right are effectively trying to delegitimise any criticism of themselves. By protesting, you become the terrorist, the radicalised extremist. These sort of tactics have, to a large extent, already worked in the US, with the Antifa movement regularly being cast as villains for having the audacity to stand up to the neo-fascists, despite the fact they aren’t the ones murdering people. It is essential that we don’t allow the same thing to happen here, which is why we have to keep ridiculing the Nazis and, where necessary, throwing milk shakes at them – remember throwing a milk shake at a fascist isn’t an act of terror: it’s funny.