Milkshake thrown at Nigel Farage shows we no longer live in a civilised society

PUBLISHED: 11:14 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:18 21 May 2019

Nigel Farage after he was doused in milkshake during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle

Nigel Farage after he was doused in milkshake during a campaign walkabout in Newcastle

Is throwing a milkshake at a politician a right to protest or a selfish affront to democracy? James Marston thinks it’s the latter

According to one definition a civilised society or country has a well-developed system of government, culture, and way of life and that treats the people who live there fairly. And if a person or their behaviour is civilised, they are polite and behave in a calm and reasonable way. A civilised society needs civilised behaviour.

I'm beginning to wonder if we live in such a country or society after all. I'd like to think we do, but recent years and recent events have made me question whether this is any longer the case.

Just a quick drive on our roads will soon tell you there are very many angry and impatient people about; the news this week that police arrested 586 people in relation to county lines criminal activity - something which we'd never heard of until just a few years ago - goes to show our society is in danger of becoming rife with lawlessness and mayhem, if it isn't already; and the milkshake chucking episode involving Nigel Farage this week is an affront to democracy and all civilised people stand for.

According to one report the alleged perpetrator of the crime was unrepentant calling it a "right to protest". This is an example not only of utter selfishness and ignorance but an attack on civilised society itself.

Like him or loathe him Mr Farage has changed our country and has exercised political influence greater than perhaps almost all mainstream MPs. He has stood up for what he believes in, he has faced threats and taunts, he has attracted supporters and opposition, his political achievement - even if Brexit never happens - is extraordinary - just a few years ago the mainstream politicians derided, dismissed and laughed at him and his views on the European Union, well they aren't laughing now.

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Having things thrown at you is an occupational hazard for politicians, these things happen. But to claim these actions as a right of protest because of "the bile and the racism he spouts out" is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. This attack on Mr Farage is pure bile.

The irony is the attack has secured Mr Farage largely sympathetic headlines and therefore does him little political harm at all - on the contrary his humiliation feeds into his argument that some remainers are radicalised and "For a civilised democracy to work you need the losers' consent, politicians not accepting the referendum result have led us to this" dare I say it but he has a point.

I'm not in the business of agreeing with everything Mr Farage says or does, but I do believe he has the right to say it. He has the right not only to say what he thinks, but also to do his job, to have his platform, and to offend people - that is the nature of the freedom of speech, by which we all can express what we think.

We live in a world where it is as easy to turn off the background noise as it is to turn it on.

If you don't like Mr Farage, or anyone else, don't read the news about him, don't buy a newspaper with him on the front, don't watch the television when he appears, ignore him and deny him the publicity he needs to do his job, simply take a different view to those who support him - it's easy and it doesn't need uncivilised behaviour.

One milkshake is not the concern, of course, incidents such as these are always going to happen. The danger comes when these incidents gain support from across the political divide, when such incidents are hailed as heroic acts or come with the suggestion that the victim "had it coming". That is the door to real division and anarchy, and history shows us it really is such a small step.

That we show our disapprobation or support of political views through the ballot box and other lawful means is the mark of a civilised society, as is tolerating the views and behaviours of others with which one disagrees or even finds distasteful.

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