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This Milkshake Spring isn’t political violence – it’s political theatre

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What a lot of crying over a spilt milkshake. Since broadcaster and sometime politician Nigel Farage got covered in sticky banana and salted caramel in Newcastle on Monday, the air has been thick with condemnation.

“Normal campaigning is becoming impossible,” tweeted the far-right leader, before pleading for “civilised democracy” – a new tune from a man who warned that unless he gets his precise flavour of Brexit he would “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the frontlines”. The dousing was “horrible and ridiculous”, said Tony Blair, famed for his excellent judgment on weapon threats. And so the professionally outraged have taken to social media and TV studio sofas, bemoaning the debasement of our politics and whatever else they can squeeze into their allotted two and a half minutes.

Although no fan of lobbing objects at others, or indeed of high-sugar dairy products, I must confess that my greatest upset was not on behalf of the contemptible Farage but at the revelation that milkshakes now cost £5.25. Nor did I shed a single tear when the far-right Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, took repeated dousings after he publicly accused “every single Muslim” of “getting away” with the 7/7 bombings. And when it was the turn of Carl Benjamin, whose most notable life achievement has been to joke about the MP Jess Phillips getting raped, I laughed. If this is Britain’s Milkshake Spring and these are its targets, then I can imagine worse.

British politics currently bestows its largest rewards on those talking the most hyperbole. Even so, a bit of context wouldn’t go amiss. First, small and ultimately harmless projectiles have been on the fringe of........

© The Guardian