Social media fights over whether the milkshaking of a Brexit Party activist was a conspiracy

A Brexit Party activist supposedly covered in milkshake outside a polling station. Also pictured two milkshakes
Joshua Funnell

The 2019 European elections will forever be known as ‘the ones where people got milkshakes thrown over them’. And the election’s final day didn’t disappoint, with another Brexit Party activist (allegedly) feeling the cold sting of sweetened dairy.

Social media is awash with conflicting views on the latest incident. For many, it was a simple case of an unjustifiable assault on a political opponent. However, others have gone down a conspiratorial path and suggested the milkshaking was an inside job for election gains.

But the fuss made about this particular incident, including whether or not it was faked, says a lot about the current state of UK politics.

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The official story

The official version is that an elderly veteran was attacked outside a polling station where he was representing the Brexit Party.

Piers Morgan told the story in his typical ‘angry man of the people’ style:

Reacting to the story, former footballer Joey Barton suggested that throwing milkshakes is a slippery slope:

And if Barton is right, what comes next? Nukes? One Twitter user had an answer:

A Brexit Party PR stunt?

But others are sceptical of the official version of events. Instead, critics suggest it was staged to create sympathy for the Brexit Party. They are part of what is now being called the “milkshake truther” movement:

Even Tony Blair’s former director of communications during the Iraq War, Alastair Campbell, joined the conspiracy world:

Campbell’s take was particularly interesting considering his own dismissal of conspiracies when questioned about his role in the Iraq war:

One truth seeker even conducted a milkshake “splatter analysis” to test the authenticity of the official milkshake attack theory:

But others just used the whole situation to take the piss:

Did this particular incident distract us from other important issues?

Many believe that the embarrassment of a milkshaking has shattered the far-right’s desire for an image of suited respectability. But some felt that on this occasion, the intense focus on the milkshake drama was counterproductive. And both those expressing sympathy for the man, and those suggesting he staged it, helped distract focus from other serious issues:

Others referred to the damning UN report on poverty in Britain:

Songwriter and comic Mitch Benn highlighted the scandal of some EU nationals being denied their votes on the very same day:

The media’s disproportionate response
Others commented on the intense interest and willingness to condemn this act of milkshaking. And yet, they argue, far less energy has been given to matters of life and death involving the far right, and wider issues of political corruption.
 
Radio presenter, James O’Brien, reminded us of a real neo-Nazi threat:

Others pointed out the selective moral outrage at certain aspects of British politics, while others seem normalised:

Milkshakes reveal a lot about our politics

Whether a conspiracy or genuine, the reaction to the latest milkshake incident reveals how messy UK politics has become – in more ways than one. But perhaps more concerning is that while people literally obsess over spilt milk, and rush to condemn the actions of the perpetrators, they are happy to ignore the very real violence of the far-right.

Featured image via Gary/Twitter and One Kitchen – A Thousand Ideas/YouTube

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