Milkshake Revolution: The Ethics Behind Food As Political Protest

“We will not be selling milkshakes or ice cream tonight,” read a sign outside the McDonalds of Edinburgh, Scotland, which is based 200-so metres outside the venue for a Brexit party rally. “This is due to police requests given recent events.” What the sign left unspoken was those “recent events” is actually the absurdist “milkshake revolution” being waged against right-wing European parliamentary candidates across the United Kingdom.

It was comedy writer Tom Peck who described Britain's political climate as “Milkshake Spring”, a time where suited-up bureaucrats have their campaign efforts humbly melted down by activists armed with deadly dairy products. As the spilt milk coats the tailored suits of political targets, the culture is left dealing with those crying “political violence” and those laughing that it’s just “political protest”. Our readers best grab their own milkshake and sip along before passing judgement.

The drenched include controversial YouTuber turned UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin (dunked four times), his party’s loose associates in activist Tommy Robinson (splashed twice) and Milo Yiannopolous (once), a war veteran campaigning for the Brexit Party (which remains an allegation spread on social media) and the most prominent being the Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party (who was trapped on his campaign bus after it was surrounded by milkshakers). It appears no members of the centre-left have faced similar actions.

Whether it’s laced with strawberry, chocolate or banana with salted caramel, these milkshakes are serving as the disruptive plague upon oh-so-serious pollies desperate for electoral power and their occupying activists. As to be expected, their responses have ranged from salty comments condemning the acts as “disrespectful” and “radicalisation” during media interviews to outright violence by assaulting their own constituency. If there’s one thing to bring out votes, it’s crocodile tears, playing the victim and causing punch-outs over literal spilt milk.

After the chuckles and cleansing wore down, the words “political violence” remained on the lips of defensive journalists with opinion pieces, editorials and tweets condemning this new “milkshaking” trend as anti-Western… but what if I told you it’s actually an age-old Western tradition? The Greeks even have a word for it, “Yaourtoma”, which is considered the act of dowsing one’s disliked representatives with yoghurt, fruit or tzatziki as a form of political dissent through public humiliation. During the last decade, politicians including Haris Kastandidis, Liana Kanelli, and Alekos Alavanos have been the targets of Greek yoghurt throwing, though the justifications have been lost underneath the muck of dairy.

Nevertheless, each dunking served its purpose of showing their representatives, upon leaving their ivory towers with their policy cabal, remain accountable to the free people of their nation. In kind, what better response than to restrict this freedom? This eventually led to the 1958 passing of Law 4000, the military dictatorship’s attempt to crack down on protestors by declaring yogurting a punishable crime no different than treason… which only made the protest all the more enticing. The ban was later withdrawn by the rise of Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government in 1983.

You may protest “but the United Kingdom isn’t Greece”… and you would certainly be correct. The common people of England are under no obligation to follow the common people of Athens. The citizens should be free to pick and choose which values are worth preserving… but when these candidates run on a promise to preserve so-called “Western values” as a whole, which they’ve declared under threat by foreign invaders, is there no hypocrisy when they can’t stand tall as all those values literally come flying in their face? Or is it more just a “talking the talk” type of affair?

In “The Making of the English Working Class” by historian E.P Thompson, “egging” in the United Kingdom reportedly dates back to the ancient days of the 17th-century, back when prisoners were egged for their crimes. “The day before, in the same place, a man had been in the pillory for perjury, and had been pelted with rotten eggs, and almost strangled by blood and guts brought from the slaughter-houses, and flung in his face,” Thompson wrote.

It was also cited in The Guardian how Elizabethan-era theater crowds tossed eggs at terrible actors, which has only been adopted against prisoners and politicians since. From the French using flour to the Brits and their eggs, whatever food you choose is irrelevant given the concept remains a long Western tradition used against politicians. To stand opposed would show opposition to certain types of Western values, favouring authoritarian or libertarian.

Tyranny is as much a western value as dissent, it just depends which values are actually valued. “In Britain, it will always be eggs,” wrote journalist Chitra Ramaswamy in 2015, showcasing this also isn’t the first rodeo for Farage who was cited as having an egging experience more five years ago. His fellow UK politicians, such as former prime minister David Cameron, and former deputy prime minister John Prescott, responded in kind by punching eggers. Ironic how those who oppose this questionable value devolve into the more obvious violent territory.

The Daily Mirror reports how Cameron’s protestor was even dressed as a chicken — an obvious set-up to an egg-cellent punchline — who was briefly arrested but never charged for his demonstration. Even by British law is this issue concerned benign. “[T]hese things happen and it’s probably an expression of a lot of anger people have towards politicians at the moment,” the president of Cornwall College’s Student Union said. “A lot of students and members of the public see them as comedy figures rather than to be taken seriously.” And this clearly has changed after the evolution to milkshakes, achieving the same result of stained clothes, humiliated pollies and no bloodshed outside the attempted counter-punches.

It’s difficult to gauge whether it’s a tactic able to change the minds of supporters, but was that ever really the intention? Does a woman cause violence when she throws a martini on a rude harasser at the club? Or are we denying distinctions and neglecting relative severity? Milkshakes won’t make the slippery slope fallacy anymore legitimate, no matter how many more women are driven over in Charlottesville, Virginia in some prophesied response. This doesn’t mean the politicians are above the age-old Western liberty of public humiliation. “Great leaders used to be measured by whether you would take a bullet for them,” Peck wrote. “Farage [and the like] can’t even pay someone to take a gourmet milkshake for [them].”

Thanks for reading! This article was originally published for TrigTent.com, a bipartisan media platform for political and social commentary, truly diverse viewpoints and facts that don’t kowtow to political correctness.

Bailey Steen is a journalist, graphic designer and film critic residing in the heart of Australia. You can also find his work right here on Medium and publications such as Janks Reviews.

For updates, feel free to follow @atheist_cvnt on his various social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Gab. You can also contact through bsteen85@gmail.com for personal or business reasons.

Stay honest and radical. Cheers, darlings. 💋

troubled writer, depressed slug, bisexual simp, neoliberal socialist, trotskyist-bidenist, “corn-pop was a good dude, actually,” bio in pronouns: (any/all)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store