Nigel Farage has been hit by a milkshake and a nation holds up a mirror to itself. Is it acceptable to laugh at Nigel Farage having had a milkshake thrown at him? Is an act of violence against a politician, however small, however lactic, ever OK? There are so many weighty questions that must be worked through with great care and patience. We’d best get started.
Would it be funny if Nigel Farage were to be hit with a strawberry milkshake? Strawberry, soft seed of England. Wimbledon, straw boaters, narrow punts gliding under long shadows, longing for times that never were... a sudden explosion and all of this streaks suddenly down the flapping pinstriped trousers of an angry, nanoscopically thin-skinned charlatan. Yes it would.
Would it be funny if Nigel Farage were to be hit with a chocolate milkshake? Chocolate, with its dark brown otherness, other worlds, other places, other peoples, chocolate flying through the summer winds and then boom, there it is, its milky slurry unleashed upon its pinstriped destiny, its soft brown power encrimsonning the whitest face of them all. Again, yes.
Would it be funny if Nigel Farage were to be hit with a banana milkshake? Banana, they tried to straighten you, and now history bends to your calling, there in your polystyrene carton, you cannot be regulated, not now, not as you slide with deadly finality down the back of your persecutor. Yes, definitely still funny.
And finally, would it be funny if Nigel Farage were to be hit with a salted caramel milkshake from Five Guys burgers, at a retail price of £5.25? Would it be funny if this cheeky chappie, this man of the people, this definitely not-a-professional-politician, would then be filmed spectacularly losing his temper with his private security team, while at least two quid’s worth of it slowly makes its certain way from trouser to brogue? Well that is a really thorny one that you can only work out for yourselves.
Poor Nigel. In different times, under different stars, great leaders, great men were measured by whether you would take a bullet for them. And now here he is, in Newcastle town centre, unable even to pay someone to take a gourmet milkshake for him.
And he, self-evidently, is not alone. This, the Milkshake Spring, has claimed many victims. Tommy Robinson took two in two days earlier this month (Warrington, Burnley, both strawberry), and then Ukip’s Carl Benjamin received the same treatment over the weekend. Nigel, mainly, will be devastated to have been quite rightly tarred with the same milky brush.
Already, the rush to condemn the milkshakers, to stamp out the milkshake revolution overwhelms. You must defeat people’s arguments, you must not silence them, you must not shut them down with airborne soft drinks. This is true, but these are high principles, and there is the nitty-gritty of reality to consider.
Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin had a milkshake thrown at him at the weekend. He has repeatedly made jokes about raping Labour MP Jess Phillips, and his own party refuses to condemn him for it. He remains a candidate. This kind of thing is outside of the rule book for liberal democracies. The game, as it’s meant to be played, is already lost.
A man called Paul Crowther has now been arrested for milkshaking Nigel Farage. “I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose,” he said. Is it his job to defeat Nigel Farage’s arguments? How does he go about doing it exactly? Nigel Farage has been going around the country telling blatant lies for several weeks now, just as he has for the last 30-odd years. He is taken seriously now because the serious people have abandoned the stage and left him to it.
Is it Paul Crowther’s fault that Nigel Farage has expanded into the space others have decided to give him? Don’t be under any illusions. Nigel Farage stood in front of a poster of desperate refugees, whose plight was and is entirely irrelevant to the Brexit cause, and exploited their misery for his own shallow gain.
It is not Paul Crowther’s fault that the Conservatives now talk of making an electoral pact with Nigel Farage to save their own electoral skin. Nor is it Paul Crowther’s fault that the Labour leadership is too useless, too lazy and too cowardly to stand up for everything it is meant to believe in, and who frankly don’t care what Nigel Farage throws around as long as none of it hits them.
For several weeks now, Nigel Farage has been visiting every part of the country, delivering a stump speech on Brexit that is a lie from start to finish, and no politician has done anything to stop him. The sum total of the resistance he has thus far met is £5.25’s worth of salted caramel milkshake. Not great, but it’s better than nothing.
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