Ethan Shone 3rd May 2019
Ooooooh Tommy Tommy, Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy Rob-in-son, has been doused down with a quartful of milkshake not once but twice (!) so far while campaigning in the North West for the European Elections. Entirely different people in entirely different north-western towns have made Robinson wear strawberry milkshake on consecutive days. Fair play.
Right-minded people everywhere are amused and supportive of both brave milkshakers, but inevitably there have been those who’ve been all like: “Leftists cried when Corbyn got egged, and now they’re laughing because someone they don’t like has had milkshake thrown on them.”
To which I say: “Yes, that’s more or less the gist of it. Didn’t actually cry, although I did pen 900 words about it, so fair one.”
There’s already been oh so many freezing cold takes (and I’m sure the reactionary think-pieces are coming) that all essentially say: “Like him or not, if [insert mainstream popular politician you care about here] got assaulted with milkshake like Tommy Robinson, you’d probably react very differently. It’s the same thing.”
And to that, I say: “No no no, you soft-brained fools, it is not the same thing.”
Look, I don’t think in the grand scheme of things it’s that big a deal that Corbyn got egged. I got slated for for saying that by many “comrades” on Twitter, but I think it’s important to maintain some perspective on these things, and over-egging (…) that incident when an MP was killed in recent memory and further plots have thankfully been thwarted is, if anything, pretty disrespectful imho.
But for the exact same reason, it was definitely worth serious attention that a senior politician was able to be assaulted while going about their work campaigning in the community. It absolutely was worrying, and the correct reaction was for it to be reported in a serious, if measured, way. And for people on all sides to condemn it, because politics just can’t work that way.
Tommy Robinson was being a prick and he deserved it
So why then, if that’s the case, is it OK Actually for Tommy Robinson, who is now, let’s not forget, a candidate for European Parliament, to get covered in strawberry milkshake on the streets of Warrington?
Quite simply, it’s because Tommy Robinson was being a prick and he deserved it. That is the crucial difference. It doesn’t even matter what his ideology is or isn’t, that’s just an added bonus. He was being a twat, and he paid the strawberry milkshake price.
The first incident was, from a technical and aesthetic perspective, the superior shake-down. A glorious long-range snipe. A perfectly weighted cross lofted smoothly onto the forehead of a striker. Yes, someone threw a McDonald’s milkshake at Tommy Robinson from quite a considerable distance away, and it seems to have been an almost direct hit. That, friends, is impressive. Though in my view, it is less justifiable than the other, second milkshaking, which has attracted much more attention.
The second incident, in Warrington, was filmed close-up and shows Robinson talking quite aggressively to a young-ish Asian guy, who’s obviously not interested in the conversation. Though it doesn’t take an expert in body language to see that the guy isn’t into their chat, what you can’t see from the clip is that Robinson had reportedly been hassling the guy for a while, as the only Asian man there, despite being told he’s wasn’t interested. To make things that bit more uncomfortable for this lad, who just seems to be out trying to mind his own and drink a fuckin’ milkshake, Robinson’s entourage are gathered all around him. It’s really not difficult to see how this might be very intimidating for anyone.
It isn’t just “anyone” though, there’s clearly another factor here. Robinson is known mostly for just being a racist, and specifically, an Islamaphobe. He’s called British Muslims “enemy combatants” and all the rest of it (he founded the English Defence League, for fuck’s sake, it’s amazing that we continually have to re-demonstrate his racism). So even if this guy isn’t totally familiar with Tommy Robinson, he likely knows Robinson and his supporters are racists with a particular vendetta against Asian men. Even if you don’t think that about Tommy Robinson, you must accept some people do. And again, that’s just an additional, aggravating factor in all this.
Put yourself in my guy’s shoes and tell me you wouldn’t have dashed Tommy Robinson with that milkshake
Now think of those people who approach you in the street trying to sell something. That can be a bit annoying, can’t it? Typically they’re nice, but hey, everybody’s gotta eat, so sometimes they can be pretty persistent, if a little pushy. Imagine the pushiest street seller you’ve ever encountered — I remember mine clear as day, as no doubt you will yours — and imagine if they’d been just loads and loads worse. Imagine instead of trying to flog you insurance or a magazine as you walked past, they followed you down the street along with a gang of their mates, and it’s not insurance they’re selling, it’s racism.
“Why don’t you wanna buy this racism, mate? What are you being a dick for, not buying my racism? Too good for it are you?”
Now put yourself in my guy’s shoes, and tell me you wouldn’t have dashed Tommy Robinson with that milkshake? Look me in the eye and lie to me.
We all want to live in a country where it’s more-or-less fine to pour a cool beverage over the head of any politician — I’m using that term oh-so-loosely here — who continually accosts you in the street
We may all have different ideas about what’s right and wrong, but I think we all want to live in a country where it’s more-or-less fine to pour a cool beverage over the head of any politician — I’m using that term oh so loosely here — who continually accosts you in the street, along with a big intimidating gang of their mates, after you’ve refused to speak with them.
Honestly, if Jeremy Corbyn takes to bothering people on the high street, demanding they engage with him in that angry-shouty voice he very occasionally does, while Ian Lavery, Richard Burgon and John McDonnell loom ominously over his shoulder, I’ll be like: “Yeah, milkshake him. Shake ‘em all down.”
And there’s still another obvious difference between the milkshaking and the egging — Corbyn probably has never thrown a punch in his life, while the video appears to show Robinson and his gang piling on to the young man after the milkshake was thrown. I don’t know if a milkshaking is classed as assault if you don’t physically touch the person, but landing several punches definitely is.
Unlike some, I can acknowledge that there are plenty of decent people who might think that Tommy Robinson is a good guy and be broadly supportive of him, not because he’s an Islamophobic, race-baiting, proto-fascist thug but because they think he isn’t that.
It’s not hypocrisy to laugh at this and be concerned about actual unprovoked attacks
“He’s misunderstood. The media just stitch him up and lie about him,” they might say. And I’d disagree, but we can climb that mountain of shit another time.
Even if you like and support Tommy Robinson, you have to accept this isn’t like Corbyn being egged, and it’s not comparable to politicians suffering abuse and threats, because ultimately, Robinson directly provoked this guy.
It’s not hypocrisy to laugh at this and be concerned about actual unprovoked attacks on (real) politicians, left or right. And it won’t be proof of an establishment conspiracy when our brave and bold milkshaker, gods be kind, receives a knighthood for his efforts, while the guy who egged Corbyn got a short prison sentence (though for the record, I think that was slightly OTT).
Main image credit: ratsbeyfus on flickr
Ethan Shone 3rd May 2019