May 23rd, 2019 – Milkshakes used to bring all the boys to the yard, but now they’re making all the (proud) boys avoid the area. The new form of political protest known as “milkshaking” has taken over the campaign trail in Europe. Far-right politicians have found themselves on the receiving end of dairy dashes as they vie for a seat in the European Parliament.
Politicians and wanna-be political figures have been the target of many an object over the years. Shoes, eggs, and even fists have been known to take flight, but protestors have now turned to the land of lactose, finding that a milkshake has the potential to do more damage through embarrassment.
“What the far right fears more than anything else isn’t a defeat at the ballot box or a temporary setback in policymaking. It’s the sting of shame that comes from being humiliated in public.
Over the past month, several far-right figures have been humiliated in public with a milkshake. Nigel Farage, Carl Benjamin, and Tommy Robinson have all had to take their suits to the dry cleaners — some more than once. Farage was the latest target, getting doused in Newcastle, England on Monday supposedly by a Five Guys’ banana and salted caramel shake.
The Brexit party leader, who’s hoping to become an MEP after Thursday’s election, walked away from the incident with embarrassment, anger, and a tasty treat on his face, according to video of the milkshaking.
The fear of another milkshaking also kept Farage in his turquoise campaign bus in Kent on Wednesday after an aide saw multiple men tucked away in a group of supporters holding milkshakes. Reporters said Farage did brave the outside world for a few moments but quickly retreated back to the safety of the bus.
Robinson, who previously led the English Defence League and supported the Scottish YouTuber who was found guilty in court after teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do a Nazi salute, was hit with two milkshakes this month. Benjamin, who is under investigation for comments he made about raping British Labour lawmaker Jess Phillips, has met hundreds of potential constituents as well as four milkshakes on the campaign trail.
Debates over the appropriateness of milkshaking quickly unfolded. Arguments were often not that different than those that came from the question: Is it OK to punch Nazis (cc: Richard Spencer)?
Brendan Cox, husband of UK Parliament member Jo Cox (who was killed just before the 2016 Brexit referendum by a white supremacist), added his voice to the conversation saying that while he “profoundly dislikes” Farage’s politics and “willingness to pander to hatred & division,” he doesn’t “think throwing stuff at politicians you disagree with is a good idea.”
“It normalises violence & intimidation and we should consistently stand again it,” he added.
Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, on the other hand, disagrees with the characterization of violence. He tweeted after Robinson received a milkshaking emphasizing that he got a dessert not a fist.
“It’s a milkshake. A *milkshake*. Clearly I condemn political violence. This is not political violence from the guy on the left. It is a milkshake.”
Paul Crowther, the man who ended up getting charged with common assault and criminal damage after milkshaking Farage, agrees.
“The bile and the racism he spouts out in this country is far more damaging than a bit of milkshake to his front,” he said. “I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose.”
While the debate about whether this is a playful, effective tactic or a misguided, dangerous assault continues, police have taken the issue seriously. Last week, officials in Edinburgh asked a local McDonald’s to stop selling milkshakes while Farage was in town for an event.