Nigel Farage speaking

Milkshake thrown at Nigel Farage highlights trend of electoral violence

A video of Reform UK leader Nigel Farage went viral after he was allegedly doused with a milkshake while launching his election campaign in Essex.

Not the first time Farage has been “milkshaked,” the Reform UK leader was exiting the Wetherspoons Moon and Starfish pub in Clacton-on-Sea when a 25-year-old woman was alleged to have thrown a yellow liquid at his head. 

Victoria Thomas Bowen, the woman who allegedly threw the milkshake, has been charged with assault by beating and criminal damage following the incident. 

A man who was also arrested was later released without charge.

Two hours after the alleged incident, Farage responded by posting a comedic video on Twitter/X, but later said that it was frightening, according to SkyNews

The viral confrontation has resulted in surging public commentary online. 

Sarah Birch, Political Science professor at King’s College London, said: “The milkshake is at the low end of the electoral violence scale, but incidents like that do potentially encourage more serious attacks, which makes this a worrying development.” 

The Electoral Commission (TEC), an organisation that oversees elections in the UK, conducted a survey interviewing more than 400 general election candidates last month.

It revealed that more than 25% of candidates experienced intimidation or abuse while campaigning, and 55% of that abuse took place online. 

The Association for Public Service Excellence’s (APSE) report published in April revealed that 81.2% of local councillors have experienced serious issues relating to intimidation or harassment from members of the public.  

On the TEC and APSE reports, Birch added: “This suggests that the relative comity of traditional UK election campaigns may be breaking down.” 

Farage had a Five Guys milkshake thrown at him in Newcastle in May 2019 by Paul Crowther, following a campaign walkabout before the European elections. 

After what prosecutor James Long described as a politically motivated attack, Crowther was arrested and pleaded guilty to common assault and criminal damage, ultimately paying Farage £350 for suit-cleaning fees. 

Following the incident in 2019, the Collins Dictionary added the term “milkshaking” to its dictionary. 

The food attacks against Farage have not been exclusively milkshake-related, as he had an egg hurled at him during a campaign visit to Nottingham in 2014 while leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

Labour Party Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper posted on X (formally known as Twitter) about the incident.

She said: “Disgraceful assault on Nigel Farage today.

“Completely unacceptable and wrong.

“No one should face intimidation or assault in an election campaign.

“Thank you to the police for responding.” 

As studies by the TEC and ASPE have revealed, electoral violence is not a new phenomenon and appears to be on the rise. 

Former Finchley and Golders Green Conservative MP Mike Freer announced his resignation from the general election following a suspected arson attack on his constituency building in December 2023 and years of abuse online. 

Former Conservative MP for Southend West Sir David Amess was murdered in 2021 after being stabbed at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, and his killer was given a whole-life sentence in 2022. 

Jo Cox, a Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered in West Yorkshire in 2016 by Thomas Mair, a far-right extremist linked to white supremacy who was later imprisoned for life. 

There was even an incident in which an MP was attacked and subsequently entered an altercation with his attacker.

Former deputy prime Minister John Prescott had an egg thrown at him at a rally in Wales in 2001, and he then punched the protester. 

Electoral violence is not only a problem in the UK, as it has become a concern in the US, notably with the January 6th attack on the US Capitol building in 2021, in which a mob of Donald Trump supporters protested the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

The Justice Department announced it estimated between 2,000 and 2,500 people attacked the capitol building on January 6, and the incidents resulted in five deaths and approximately 140 police officer injuries. 

As politicians are counting down the days until the general election on July 4, maintaining electoral integrity and preventing electoral violence will remain key issues.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons Creative License

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