Wave of milkshake-tossing protests hits Britain

In the latest in a series of milkshake assaults on British politicians, Nigel Farage, a leader of the Brexit movement to withdraw from the European Union, was doused with a milkshake Monday while campaigning in Newcastle for a seat in the E.U. parliament.

Farage, an ally of President Trump, is not the first politician to suffer a milkshake protest, as pro-Brexit candidate Carl Benjamin has been hit with four milkshakes over the last week and far-right activist Tommy Robinson was hit with milkshakes on consecutive days earlier this month. Benjamin, an anti-feminist YouTuber, is under investigation for comments he made about raping a British legislator while Robinson spent time in prison for a contempt of court charge. Violence broke out a Robinson rally over the weekend.

Paul Crowther, 32, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of common assault.

“It’s a right of protest against people like [Farage],” he said.

Crowther told the reporters the liquid was a banana and salted caramel milkshake from Five Guys, adding, “I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose.”

According to a reporter from The Guardian, Farage admonished his security team for not seeing the milkshake coming.

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'Bad boys of Brexit' Nigel Farage and Arron Banks
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'Bad boys of Brexit' Nigel Farage and Arron Banks
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (L) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a £1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (L) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a �1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (R) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a £1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (L) and Ukip party chairman Steve Crowther (C) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a �1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (L) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a �1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 01: Leader of Ukip Nigel Farage (L) holds a press conference with the party's new donor Arron Banks on October 1, 2014 in Bristol, England. Former Tory donor, businessman Arron Banks has pledged to give Ukip a �1,000,000 GBP donation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage (L) and major donor Arron Banks leave the party's head office in central London on May 15, 2015. A week after an election in which it won the third-biggest share of the national vote but just one seat in parliament, Britain's UK Independence Party is tearing itself apart in spectacular fashion. First there was charismatic party leader Nigel Farage's short-lived resignation, then a big fallout over finances and on May 14 a stunning attack on him from the head of his election campaign. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
British businessman Arron Banks (C) and UKIP leader Nigel Farage (3R) pose with volunteers after a press briefing by the 'Leave.EU' campaign group in central London on November 18, 2015. Britain will decide in a referendum to be held by 2017 if they should remain within the European Union. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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The protest came after authorities had attempted to protect Farage, including asking a McDonalds in Edinburgh, Scotland, to not serve milkshakes while the Brexit Party leader was speaking there. Farage tweeted after the event “Sadly some remainers have become radicalised, to the extent that normal campaigning is becoming impossible” and told police he would press assault charges against Crowther.

The man who threw the first milkshake volley at Robinson, Danyal Mahmud, told the Observer he was receiving death threats. Per Mahmud, he was the only Asian person in a Unite Against Fascism protest against Robinson and he threw the milkshake after he was confronted by the candidate and his supporters.

Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, told Yahoo News that the milkshake protests were the continuation of a trend in British politics.

“We’ve got a long history of throwing things at politicians,” Bale said. “You can go back to the 1960s when the prime minister had eggs thrown at him and actually took it in pretty good heart. It’s not really perhaps the most serious threat that’s ever been leveled against a politician. I think it’s really a way of people who feel very strongly protesting as what they see against some very extremist politicians, getting a mention in the news by doing it without being at much risk of being condemned by the rest of the public. Although perhaps they shouldn’t, I think the British public will find this slightly amusing rather than a worrying trend.”

While public opinion is still out, the milkshaking of Farage drew a rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May.

"The Prime minister supports efforts to stamp out unacceptable and unlawful behaviour and where incidents of harassment and abuse constitutes a criminal offence it should be taken seriously by the police,” said May’s office in a statement Monday. “The Prime Minister has been clear that politicians should be able to go about their work and campaign without harassment, intimidation or abuse. In this case, an arrest has already been made so I can't comment further.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also condemned the protest.

"Horrible and ridiculous and people shouldn't do it,” said Blair. “I can't stand this, I really feel very strongly about this. The guy is entitled to his point of view. But we've got to get out of this situation where if you disagree with someone, you stop them speaking, you disrupt their meetings, you throw things over them, it's ridiculous."

Bale sees the possibility of milkshake protests shifting to more mainstream politicians with Farage as the gateway.

“The question will be whether like populism itself will it move into the mainstream,” said Bale. “Will we see Conservative, Labour, Liberal-Democrat, mainstream centrist politicians get the same treatment? Some people would say there is a big difference between someone like Tommy Robinson who is really rather a borderline, racist case and someone like Nigel Farage, who love him or hate him — and a lot of people hate him — is a more conventional politician, certainly not someone who has gone to prison and been in trouble with the police in the same way that Tommy Robinson has.”

The milkshakes are an evolution from the traditional egging, which has been a relatively common occurrence for British politicians. Eggs were thrown at former prime ministers Harold Wilson and John Major in 1970 and 1992, respectively. In 2001, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott threw a punch at a protester who egged him.

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High-profile figures who have been egged
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High-profile figures who have been egged
Labour leader Ed Miliband after he was pelted with eggs during a campaign visit in East Street market in Walworth, south London. (Photo by Lewis Whyld/PA Images via Getty Images)
Labour leader Ed Miliband after he was pelted with eggs during a campaign visit in East Street market in Walworth, south London. (Photo by Lewis Whyld/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UK, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/03/03: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is seen with flowers during the fourth Visit My Mosque Day at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. Over 250 mosques open their doors to non-Muslim guests and visitors on the fourth Visit My Mosque Day. This year the national event also encourages mosques to support Keep Britain Tidy's Great British Spring Clean campaign with many already taking part in cleaning their communities. Later a man thought to be a pro-Brexit campaigner was arrested after he pressed down an egg on Jeremy Corbyns head. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
STOKE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall (R) and former Leader Nigel Farage MEP dodge an egg thrown by a youth as they arrive in Stoke-On-Trent for a public meeting this evening on February 6, 2017 in Stoke, England. The Stoke-On-Trent central by-election has been called after sitting Labour MP Tristram Hunt resigned from his seat to be a museum director. The seat has always been a Labour stronghold but will see fierce competition from The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as they target people who voted for Brexit and the tradtional Labour working classes. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 01: A man who threw an egg at UKIP leader Nigel Farage is lead away by police. The man gave his name as Fred, an unemployed musician, on May 1, 2014 in Nottingham, England. Nigel Farage is on a whistle stop tour of the country campaigning ahead of next month's European elections. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A security guard keeps back a well-wisher after wiping an egg from the shoulder of actor and gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he greets students at California State University in Long Beach, September 3, 2003. The actor is conspicuously skipping on Wednesday the first in a series of debates with Governor Gray Davis and the top candidates who want to replace him, in the state's unprecedented recall election. The recall vote is scheduled for October 7. REUTERS/Damian Dovarganes/POOL RG/GN
370619 02: File Photo: A Video Still Of Microsoft Mogul Bill Gates Walking Past Reporters After He Being Hit In The Face By 4 Fresh Cream Tarts By The Infamous Pie Thrower, Noel Godin, April 2, 1998 In Brussels, Belgium. The U.S. District Court Judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, Issued His Final Judgement June 7, 2000 In The Antitrust Case Against Microsoft Corporation, Mandating The Split Of The Company Into Two Separate Entities. (Photo By Getty Images)
Designer Calvin Klein reacts after he and his wife Kelly (L) were hit by a cream pie as they arrived at the 20th Annual American Fashion Awards, at Lincoln Center in New York. * An anti-fur protester threw the pie as a group of designers arrived. Klein was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and was nominated for Womenswear Designer of the Year. The awards are presented by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. (Photo by Stan Honda - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
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In 2010, Conservative Party leader and future prime minister David Cameron was hit with an egg thrown by a student. Former Labour leader Ed Milliband was egged in 2013 by a man who said he disapproved of both parties handling of the poor, particularly the homeless, while current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was hit with one earlier this year by a man who disagreed with Corbyn’s anti-Brexit stance. Prior to Monday’s milkshake incident, Farage was hit with an egg in 2014.

Others who have been on the receiving end of eggs, in Britain and elsewhere, include Simon Cowell and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shrugged off the protest during his California gubernatorial campaign, saying, “This guy owes me bacon now.

Other time-honored culinary methods of protest include chocolate eclairsgreen custard and cream pies. Protesters in the United States tend to favor pies. The list of recipients includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, designer Calvin Klein, former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, former Vermont Governor James Douglas, Michigan Senator Carl Levin, Watergate perpetrator G. Gordon Liddy, physicist Edward Teller, conservative pundit Bill Kristol and most recently former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in 2016. Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin successfully avoided tomatoes thrown at her during a 2009 book signing.

But in Bale’s opinion, the milkshakes have already proven a very effective tool for protesters.

“In some ways, it’s a very effective form of protest,” said Bale.” One, we’re talking about it now, right? It’s all over the media at the moment. And two, it does kind of ruin a politician’s suit and puts them out of action for an hour or two unless they’ve got a spare suit being carried everywhere. It’s not like the odd bit of egg that you can just brush off. To be honest, once one of these guys has thrown a milkshake over you, you look like you’ve been crapped on from a height by a seagull and you can’t really carry on until you change.”

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