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The trouble with “political theatre” is that life imitates art

“This Milkshake Spring isn’t political violence – it’s political theatre”, wrote Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian the day before yesterday.

From Nigel Farage to Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, dangerous figures on the right are being reduced to ridicule

Today’s “dangerous figure on the right” was an elderly Brexit Party teller called Don:

Brexit Party teller attacked by milkshake

Don, A Brexit Party teller and 22 year army veteran in Aldershot described as a “popular man with the local community,” has been attacked by a man on a bike with a milkshake. Former Army Major Dominic Farrell described the scene…

“Bloke on a cycle passed by, saw his rosette, gave him the finger and abuse, then went to a shop, bought the milkshake and attacked him.”

How do people think this is acceptable..?

34 comments to The trouble with “political theatre” is that life imitates art

  • llamas

    You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read a LTTE in today’s Guardian, calling out Chakrabortty for despicable moral relativism and condemning this for what it is – condoning violence against those he disagrees with. I wonder how that ever got past the editors?

    Part of me would love to see the Brexit side think up some comparable means of attacking leading Remainers – silly-string, or TP, something like that. But I know it’s wrong to think that way. 😉

    llater,

    llamas

  • James Strong

    And yet it is Brexiteers who are accused of being full of hate.

    I went to the Brexit Party rally in Newport a few weeks ago. On the way out a middle-aged lady wanted to walk out in a group because she was afraid of abuse. She asked me ‘Why are we portrayed as bigots?’ I did not have a satisfactory answer. The only answer I can find is that the Antifa-type left cannot use reasoned arguments in support of their position and against the position of Leavers.

    I voted Brexit Party this morning.

    I have many reasons for this, among them Tony Benn’s famous 5 Questions. (google them if you are not familiar with them)

    I want to live in a country where we can remove our lawmakers peacefully through the ballot box. I want to live in a country where our laws are supreme, where there is no judicial body above our Supreme Court.

    I want friendly relations with the peoples of other European countries, but I want nothing to do with the bureaucratic and anti-democratic European Union.

    I haven’t yet been personally insulted as a hate-filled Nazi bigot,and I haven’t suffered an assault. But people whose views coincide probably 95% or more with mine have suffered both those things.

    I hope the milkshake throwers are found, prosecuted and, if convicted, sent to prison. Fines are no good, they can be crowd-funded. It must be prison to be a real punishment.

    This kind of political violence must, must. be stopped.

  • Surellin

    I’d love to heave a milkshake at some Remainer, but I will squelch that urge and recommend that we leave food abuse to the children and other barbarians.

  • pete

    ‘Liberals’ are judge and jury for everyone, including themselves when they are in the dock, for sexism, racism and free speech, so why not for violence and intimidation at political meetings?

    They are clever and educated and the best people for the job.

  • Sam Duncan

    “From Nigel Farage to Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin,”

    … and SDP canvassers…

    “dangerous figures on the right are being reduced to ridicule”

    The argument kind of falls apart once you include all the recorded victims, doesn’t it? No, Aditya, this is not upstanding civic-minded patriots standing up to incipient fascism; it’s cowardly yobs acting (exactly) like children.

    “And yet it is Brexiteers who are accused of being full of hate.”

    I said much the same at Guido Fawkes’s site the other day: it occurs to me that the only people I’ve ever heard actually using the word “hate” approvingly in a political context – “hate the Tories”, “hate the rich”, “I still hate Thatcher” – are Leftists.

  • neonsnake

    silly-string, or TP, something like that. But I know it’s wrong to think that way. 😉

    That’s the thing, isn’t it? Milkshake is just silly and harmless, no-one’s being assaulted, hahaha. Look at the man covered in milkshake, doesn’t he look silly?

    Beyond the obvious (?) fact that any physical interference should be off-limit, it’s not “just silly”. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t want to take a blow to the head from a full carton of milkshake. That’s not just a dry-cleaning bill, and a milkshake isn’t a brick, but that’s still going to hurt. And I’m not sure how controlled my follow-up reaction would be, in the moment.

    Which might well be the point. Provoke to the point of violence, and get it on camera.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    It’s the “Chopper Harris” school of politics.

    if you haven’t got the skill or the knowledge to play the subject, just hack down the opponent and try and cripple them. Ad hominem.

    Then blame them for your own actions. It’s their own fault, they had it coming, get yer retaliation in first.

    And, as Titania McGrath pointed out today:

    The EU referendum proved conclusively that democracy doesn’t work when people vote the wrong way. Make sure you vote wisely in today’s election so that we can put an end to democracy once and for all.

    😛

  • Ferox

    As long as you’re willing to take the high road and shrug off such abuse, I am sure your opponents will be delighted to keep dishing it out to you. They are having a great time.

    Perhaps one day when a Brexiteer decides to do something more than just nod and smile, they won’t care much whether or not there are cameras watching. And maybe some Remainers will get the memo that if they come looking for violence, they will find it.

    On that day I don’t think there will be a conflagration, I think there will be … nothing. It’s the passivity that provokes violence. A vigorous response is the best prevention.

  • Nemesis

    Perhaps when the Brexit Party win they should celebrate with milkshakes.

  • Ferox

    Any word yet on how that is going? I haven’t seen a single squib in the news here about the election results …

    Or are you not allowed to mention it?

  • neonsnake

    Voting is open until 10pm in the UK, but the rest of the EU votes over the next few days, so we won’t learn anything until Sunday night.

    My understanding is that during that time, nothing from exit polls is allowed to be published, so we won’t know anything until Sunday night/Monday morning.

    (Corrections welcome)

  • bobby b

    I really don’t understand y’all.

    If someone spills a milkshake on me, no big deal. I clean it off, we chuckle, and we go our ways.

    If someone throws a milkshake over me because of my political views, they’re going to need some sort of medical attention (unless they’re huge and I have no friends around.)

    Does your entire country just stand back aghast and wait for a cop to wander over? How does the person who covered Farage make it out of the crowd alive?

  • You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read a LTTE in today’s Guardian, calling out Chakrabortty for despicable moral relativism and condemning this for what it is – condoning violence against those he disagrees with. I wonder how that ever got past the editors? (llamas, May 23, 2019 at 12:20 pm)

    The truly charitable view would be that the Grauniad’s editors are not quite so OK with this increase in the physicality of politics that they will censor every letter that criticises it. The truly cynical view would be that printing the letter today help’s justify tomorrow’s article explaining why the letter-writer is quite wrong. Hopefully the first view is true of some at least.

    Which might well be the point. Provoke to the point of violence, and get it on camera. (neonsnake, May 23, 2019 at 2:28 pm)

    Sadly, this is sensible thinking. Somewhere some PC group is discussing how to get ‘clever’ with this. They may be no more clever in action than the people who tried to set up the Covington kids – and then again, they may be not as inept as that.

  • Ferox

    Bobby b: right?!?

    It’s as though some people believe that allowing others to abuse you with impunity is morally admirable, the coveted “high ground”.

    But it ain’t, though.

  • Ferox (May 23, 2019 at 3:41 pm), you are right that while milkshake-throwing appears a safe sport, the PC will be attracted to it, and vice versa. However the situation is all too likely to resolve itself, and not from some provoked Brexitter losing it. As Ruth(less), the ex-policy-head of HappyCity, reminded us, acid can be given a white colouring.

    – I’d have something to say about the bodyguards of any likely political target who are not revising their SOPs to treat the next milkshake as a potentially deadly assault.

    – Acid attacks have become markedly more common in the UK in the last couple of years or so. An un-bodyguarded commoner who reacted with instant defensive violence could say in court, “How could I know it was only milk?” (Not that the UK law is kind to those who dare to resist attack, but get a jury trial and you might get sympathy.)

    So if the PC make this antic common enough, the era of its being a consequence-free sport may be brief.

  • Sonny Wayz

    So, for the colonials here, what’s a ‘teller’ in this context?

    Aside from a victim of political violence, I mean…

  • Mr Ed

    As I said earlier, President Trump’s has armed guards. Not only are they armed, they have diplomatic immunity as part of the Presidential entourage, so there is no reason to believe that they should be deterred from using force appropriate to the highest range of threat. Frankly, if a milkshake thrower during his visit took a bullet, that would be unfortunate but volenti non fit injuria.

  • bobby b

    Frankly, if a milkshake thrower during his visit took a bullet, that would be unfortunate but volenti non fit injuria.

    The only problem with volenti non fit injuria is that it limits one to proportional response. 😛

    Why should I allow my attacker to mandate ahead of time that whatever level of violence he chooses is the maximum level that can be allowed in our interaction? That I can only use violence to the level which he has chosen?

    Frankly, if I get milkshaked, I’m going to scream “acid!!” with a lot of fear in my voice, and then break his knee. “Reasonable fear of great bodily harm” and all that . . .

  • So, for the colonials here, what’s a ‘teller’ in this context? (Sonny Wayz, May 23, 2019 at 7:50 pm)

    That he was a teller may be not wholly irrelevant to the seriousness of this, as it raises a slight question of whether the attack could be construed as some kind of electoral interference under some regulation.

  • Sonny Wayz

    Niall,

    Thanks. Scrutineer is the common term over here.

    If I understand the rules in play, there can be no such thing as interference with a Brexiteer. What’s the likelihood of any consequences for the brat who did this?

  • Mr Ed

    Sonny Wayz,

    A teller is simply a private individual actually barred from knowing what happens inside the polling statiion and this incident could only be a standard offence of battery, max. sentence 6 months, or criminal damage (to his clothing). The alleged charges for the Farage attack are both those, but criminal damage is an either-way offence (like misdemeanour or felony) and the maximun theoretical sentence is 14 years for criminal damage. In reality, possibly 28 days inside on conviction, with early release almost certain.

    Still, anyone facing charges for this conduct might like to contemplate that.

  • Julie near Chicago

    So, for you guys, a votes-counter; for us Provincials, a bank-teller (money-counter).

    .

    Surellin:

    “I’d love to heave a milkshake at some Remainer, but I will squelch that urge and recommend that we leave food abuse to the children and other barbarians.”

    And members of the Drones. 😉

    .

    “Dangerous figure on the right” — yeah, like the Tea Party folks over here. We also are full of hate, ya know, and certainly are racists and White Supremacists. Although I’m not aware of any Tea Party people who’ve been physically attacked for being pro-Tea-Party.

    . . .

    ADDENDUM: I thought I had read somewhere that Theresa May might be voted out of office today. Is that so?

  • Roué le Jour

    Mr Ed

    A teller is simply a private individual actually barred from knowing what happens inside the polling statiion and this incident could only be a standard offence of battery…

    I was under the impression that any kind of violence outside a polling station was a serious offense? Otherwise folks could put on their white robes and throw milkshakes at black people trying to vote. It’s just high spirits, right?

  • The Fyrdman

    Why is there no response from those hit by milkshakes? (Apart from Tommy, who would have battered the thrower if he had got his hands on him). Optics. Right now, the image of 30s style street thugs is precisely how they want to paint us. Do you think the media will mention the milkshake if they have footage of us hitting back?

    Right now we are undermining their case that Remain are the reasonable side by not fighting back. Every time one is thrown they lose swing voters.

  • Paul Marks

    If someone flung a drink in the face of the “Guardian” writer would that be “political theatre” – NO it would NOT.

    Just as one can NOT call Anna Soubry a “Nazi” (a person who does this is ARRESTED and PUNISHED -for saying a word) – but fine to call ME a “Nazi” (even though my family had members who were gassed by the German National Socialists).

    One law for the establishment (such as the “Guardian” writer and other “Remainers”) and another law for “Leave” people.

    I hope that the massive SMEAR CAMPAIGN against people such as Carl Benjamin fails and that they are elected – but I fear that the SMEAR CAMPAIGN will have worked (such campaigns often work).

    As for “it is just milkshakes” – BRICKS have been thrown at “Tommy Robinson” and his supporters (including their children) and if the “Hidden Barrister” (or whatever name that coward goes by) pops up to say it is O.K. to throw bricks at Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (because of X,Y,Z, bits of legalistic sophistry) then the “Hidden Barrister” will be confirming that the law has become an ass.

    In Scotland pro Leave people have had their cars and their homes BURNED – no doubt that is “political theatre” as well.

  • The linked Guardianista suggests that the figures, including Carl Benjamin, have not faced genuine violence. That is not true, I was there, although I did not get a good view.

    Those that did get a good view tell me the violence was significantly worse than was reported.

    The Guardianista Aditya Chakrabortty displays ignorance of his chosen topic.

  • TheHat

    Today it’s a milkshake. Tomorrow it’s acid. Or bleach or some other common caustic liquid. The left’s propensity for increasing violence is historic. A side note, why the hell did Tommy’s body guards not allow him to wreck that creep? That would make for a far better headline than ‘he got milkshaked’. First they don’t protect him and then they protect the milkshaker? F*cked *P.

  • James Strong

    @ Paul Marks, May 24th , 8.27am

    ‘In Scotland pro Leave people have had their cars and homes BURNED’

    Links please.

    I’ve read of one case but that was a Conservative councillor and his position on Leave/Remain was not clear in the story. In fact I got the impression the attack was linked to his role on the council.

    So, more on that case please and the other cases you have found.

  • lucklucky

    Maybe that will change once Aditya Chakrabortty and Guardian journalists start receiving milkshakes too.

  • Paul Marks

    i do not do links Mr Strong.

    If it was only one Conservative who was burned out then I apologise for the word “people” rather than “person”.

  • My suggestion is to target Leftist politicians, like Jeremy Corbin, whatshisname, the Mayor of London with milkshakes. I bet the media types will suddenly stop seeing it as funny.

    Use the rules the Left comes up with against them. Make them live by those rules good and hard.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “My suggestion is to target Leftist politicians, like Jeremy Corbin, whatshisname, the Mayor of London with milkshakes. I bet the media types will suddenly stop seeing it as funny.”

    Not that I’ve noticed. I think quite a lot of them found the John Prescott one funny.

    https://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2013/08/14/eggs-flour-and-green-slime-britain-s-ten-yuckiest-political

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2015/oct/05/history-egging-political-protest-britain

    And while the media reported the following one fairly neutrally, I couldn’t help cracking a wry smile at the headline.
    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-comforted-jeremy-corbyn-after-he-was-hit-by-egg-at-a-mosque/

  • 1) I agree the headline

    Rabbi comforted Jeremy Corbyn after he was hit by egg at a mosque

    has a comic aspect – which I suspect the Jewish News well knew when they wrote it, though the story quickly indicates that it was someone on “our” side (apparently he felt Jeremy was insufficiently supportive of Brexit) who cracked an egg against the Labour leader’s more-than-hard-enough skull, happening to do so on Jeremy’s Visit_A_Mosque day. I’m tempted to suggest that someone wishing to do so on Jeremy’s Don’t_Visit_A_Mosque (in spirit at least) day might face the harder scheduling task.

    My primary take away from that story is that the Rabbi and his flock have more cause than Jeremy Corbyn to feel ‘shaken’ about such incidents and where slow escalation may lead – or, in their case, has already led. As a milkshake could be white-coloured acid, so, as the rabbi pointed out, an egg could be a knife. I suspect he spoke from experience.

    2) The ‘politics.co.uk’ article treats with equal lightheartedness the egging of Griffin, where two of his minders were hospitalised by the ‘anti’-Nazi protestors, and the egging of Prescott, whose punch back seemed more likely to hospitalise the protestor. Add in the “gaggle of Respect activists” who countered the egger of Galloway, and it could seem the left are more violent in both attack and counter-attack. It tells us that Mandelson had, of his own uninvited free will, approached the protestor with the ‘be prepared’ cup of green slime – but, written before the age of metoo, makes little of it.

    3) The Grauniad article is equally light-hearted, taking the occasion of egging a Tory to remind us (accurately enough) that Labour people have been egged too. It assures us that “in Britain, it will always be eggs” – but no, now there are also milkshakes.

    My thought on these is that, before suicide bombers, acid attacks and Khan’s London taking records in knife crime, egging was a vulgar act that caused relatively little alarm. But the UK’s culture is evolving – or, one could say, is being evolved.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “My thought on these is that, before suicide bombers, acid attacks and Khan’s London taking records in knife crime, egging was a vulgar act that caused relatively little alarm. But the UK’s culture is evolving – or, one could say, is being evolved.”

    As Aditya Chakrabortty indicated in the head quote, throwing food at politicians has long been a traditional part of British political theatre. All the “what if”s speculating about how it might escalate are talking about something else – crimes that didn’t happen. If we’re to punish people on the basis not of what they actually did, but what they could have done, where will it end?

    Say some kid is in court for shouting racist abuse at another kid. What’s the appropriate punishment? Well, it might just as easily been far more than abuse. It might have been stones, or bottles, or petrol bombs, or bullets. It didn’t happen this time, but the victim didn’t know that at the time, and on another occasion it could have. In other cases, words have very often escalated into violence. Shouldn’t we treat the racist abuse incident with the seriousness that crimes on this entire spectrum deserve? Do you see what I mean?

    In Farage’s case, it’s an assault and battery, it’s criminal damage, it’s bullying, it’s a ‘hate crime’ (since political belief is a protected category), and it shouldn’t be acceptable. It probably deserves a short stint of jail time. It’s certainly not justified by being ‘political protest’, or by being ‘traditional’, or by the ‘right-on’ political unfashionability of the target. But it’s also just a milkshake.

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