History lesson

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‘The alleged assaults in this story are bizarre!’

After graduating in Politics and Modern History from Manchester University (MU), during a 40 year career as a journalist, for our Editor Phil Parry political stories have been all-important, and the charging of a woman with assault as a banana milkshake was thrown over Nigel Farage, as well as another incident where a takeaway cup was allegedly thrown at his battle bus, brings to mind earlier actions.


What has happened appears to fit a familiar pattern.

The Reform UK leader, Nigel Farage was leaving a pub in Clacton-on-Sea on Tuesday having launched his General Election (GE) candidacy for the constituency when a banana milkshake was thrown at him, and the woman at the centre of it all has now been charged with assault.

‘Why do these things always happen to ME?!’

He is the focus of these kind of incidents apparently.

Mr Farage had objects thrown at him while he was on top of a bus in Barnsley on Tuesday while campaigning.

One of the projectiles seemed to be a takeaway cup, while another video of the incident, from a different angle, appears to show two objects missing Mr Farage, with one hitting the side of the bus. A man has been charged.

How bizarre…

But these strange alleged acts are perhaps more typical of a traditional election campaign than sterile TV debates where politicians just trot out the party line!

I remember clearly in the 1980s waiting in my car outside a police station in South Wales where an MP was being questioned inside about his rival’s posters being torn down. I was preparing to report on the incident for BBC Cymru Wales Today (WT).

It was a straight left jab to the jaw from John Prescott

But it was to get just as bad (allegedly).

During the 2001 election campaign John Prescott, punched a protester who threw an egg at him while he was Deputy Prime Minister (DPM).

After being hit in the neck, the former amateur boxer responded with a straight left jab to the jaw.

Even further back in history these sort of incidents, are reminiscent to me of what took place during elections generally when violence prevailed (I am NOT saying in anyway that these are like this, just that it reminds me of an earlier time).

Whig MP James Vernon cudgelled people into ditches

An election in Coventry in 1705, for example, saw a pitched battle between two factions (each over a hundred strong), involving men armed with clubs, while in Queensborough, Kent a person was actually beaten to death for criticising the local MP.

Mass brawls at Tothill Fields in Westminster often left hundreds injured, while in 1702 the Whig MP James Vernon declared proudly that he had “cudgelled them (rival supporters) into ditches full of water”.

In Bristol in 1818, candidates were pelted with stinking fish, dead dogs, cats and rats, while two years later one candidate for Sussex was bombarded with rotten eggs and lifeless cats.

In the old days politics was an even dirtier game as people climbed the greasy pole, and it was lampooned in the press

It was particularly bad in this city, and in 1830 dozens of drunk but armed men on horseback attacked people at a rally for the Whig candidate James Bailie who was forced to take refuge in a pub.

In Sheffield, though, the elections after the 1832 Reform Act were even worse.

In one, fighting between Whigs and Radicals was so bad that troops had to be sent in to the city to quell the situation, and five people were shot dead.

At Cheltenham many years later in 1865, another shocking election incident took place, when a Liberal activist and a Conservative one got into a street fight.

The latter pulled out a revolver and shot dead the former.

It could have been worse!

When you know appalling historical details like these, a politician having a milkshake and a takeaway cup thrown at him doesn’t seem so bad!


There are many other candidates in the constituency where Mr Farage is standing, and the names as well as parties will all be published online.


The memories of Phil’s decades-long award-winning career in journalism (when commenting on major political stories was always paramount), as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Enormous protests have broken out to support media freedom

Tomorrow – Phil worries as critics fear the rise of the Right in the European elections could herald restrictions on a free press, which is complete anathema to him.