Milkshake brings all the noise to Farage

British politics has been milkshaken to its core this week. While we should be talking about tomorrow's European elections, discussion - earlier this week, at least - was dominated by what is apparently being called the Milkshake Spring.

The milkshake brings all the noise to Farage, but, David Fraser asks, is it doing the Brexit Party leader a favour?
The milkshake brings all the noise to Farage, but, David Fraser asks, is it doing the Brexit Party leader a favour?

That’s because in the lead-up to polling day, three candidates had to find a dry cleaners on the campaign trail after having a milkshake thrown over them.

UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin and former EDL-leader Tommy Robinson have both found themselves covered in the drink (in fact Benjamin has been attacked four times and Robinson twice), and on Monday, the craze caught it’s highest-profile victim to date – Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who was on the receiving end of a Salted Caramel beverage from Five Guys. 

The purpose of these attacks looks to be one of humiliation – that the throwers are motivated by exposing what they deem the unacceptable views of the right-wing politicians and to deliver bad publicity for them to as wide an audience as possible.

But could it be having the opposite effect? 

Does milkshaking give the oxygen of publicity to its victims that they wouldn’t otherwise have had? There’s evidence to suggest it might well do.

First, it’s undeniable that Monday’s incident has given Farage press coverage he wouldn’t otherwise have had. 

Most national newspapers carried his milkshaking over at least one page, if not two or three, when it’s unlikely a routine campaign stop in Newcastle would have featured as prominently otherwise. 

Will the milkshakings help deliver a legendairy boost at the ballot box for those on the receiving end?

David Fraser, founder and MD of Ready10

That in turn has led to his opponents condemning the attack – a tricky messaging tightrope to have to walk, because it forces them to sympathise with an opponent and for Farage to become part of their own tightly controlled campaign narrative. 

That’s bound to be frustrating so close to polling day.

But most fascinating is the story the data tells about these attacks and how people reacted online to them.

Google searches for every politician who has been milkshaked go up after the attack – so far, so not surprising. You’d expect that. 

But the interesting thing is this: they haven’t gone down again. 

Not only did searches for Tommy Robinson go up post-milkshaking, but they are, three weeks later, 600 per cent higher than they were before. 

Searches for Farage went up by 55 per cent immediately after the attack, but they too have sustained, with more searches for his name in the subsequent 48 hours than at any point in the fortnight before.

And it’s not just the individual politicians that are seeing traffic highs - their parties are benefitting, too. 

Search figures for Farage’s Brexit Party soared over the same 48 hours and, as of last night (Tuesday), they were getting five times as many queries online than any other party. 

Of course, we don’t yet know how the voting public will react. 

But it begs the question – will the milkshakings help deliver a legendairy boost at the ballot box for those on the receiving end? I wouldn’t be surprised.

David Fraser is founder and MD of Ready10

Thumbnail pic credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

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