Eggs, flour and green slime: Britain’s ten yuckiest political protests
Being a politician involves making tough decisions which, inevitably, some people won't like. The problem comes when your decisions make you so unpopular voters decide the only sensible course of action is to start pelting you with disgusting objects. Eggs, shaving foam, green-dyed custard: all are judged, by the protesters at least, to be fair weapons of war in the struggle for political power…
Ed Miliband (take one)
The first Egg Miliband incident took place during a victory parade in Southampton after 2012's local elections. This was a tough test for Ed, who had been firmly slapped on the shoulder and ended up with yolk all over his jacket while giving a TV interview. His response was a decent one – to make a joke out of it. "Not one of my fans," he remarked, before – astonishingly – attempting to finish his sentence in the TV interview. Wouldn't viewers notice something of a continuity error? Miliband later tweeted: "For those wondering about egg's origins, fairly sure it wasn't free range but nothing can take away from cracking result in Southampton…"
There is something almost poetic about this, the ultimate political egging of recent years. Not so much for the actual egger, whose close range effort was bound to hit, but for the eggee's response. Prescott's instinctive left jab made contact with the foe's jaw with the precision of an expert, earning him instant respect from unacceptable large swathes of the population. The then deputy prime minister has appointed himself a commentator whenever these incidents occur. "For those moments when you receive that kind of assault you don't know what that is," he said after the Mandelson sliming. Wait – does the most pugnacious politician of them all have a point?
The phrase "pelted" should not be used lightly in a feature about eggings, but it was undoubtedly an appropriate word to describe the fate faced by BNP leader Nick Griffin outside parliament in 2009. His election to the European parliament and subsequent press conference had barely begun before a crowd of protesters yelling "Nazi scum" launched egg after egg in his direction. He escaped unharmed – unlike two others who were hospitalised in the scrum, as his minders fought to get him to his car.
This is the lamest of all the eggings in this list, but gets in because – let's face it – he's the prime minister now. Cameron was campaigning for the job at the time, during the 2010 general election battle, when a student threw the egg at the Tory leader as he made his exit. It was not an accurate throw, leaving the reporter to note the yolk merely stained Cameron's shirt a bit. His protection officer – doing his job extremely well – took most of the damage.
The bewildered former Conservative prime minister was at his most gormless in the instant after nasty egg yolk exploded over his face back in the 1992 general election campaign. Major, who went on to win power despite the embarrassment, had already been heckled earlier that day, so by the time egg shell met prime ministerial neck in Bath, he was well and truly having a bad day. "Major, 49, pressed on through the crowd, shaking hands, as an aide wiped the yolk off his suit," the Fort Scott Tribune reported. Not as much as a punch in sight.
"He's a parasite on this city!" yelped Thomas Johnson, one of the least satisfied constituents of newly elected member of parliament George Galloway. That was about all you can pick up on the audio after the egging during Galloway's extraordinary by-election victory parade over Labour, as a gaggle of Respect activists surrounded Johnson, seized his eggs and shouted him down. What a contrast with just a few moments before, when he was lobbing eggs at Galloway with aplomb. This was a more long-range effort than most of those in this list. But it was most memorable for Johnson's quote afterwards. Referring to Galloway's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, he observed: "Who hasn't got the common sense not to act like a submissive cat on television?" And who can disagree with that?
This isn't an egg, but it is definitely the most sinister clips in this collection. Fathers4Justice had simply filled a condom with purple flour and chucked it at the prime minister, answering questions from Michael Howard during a PMQs. It was a harmless protest. But it didn't necessarily seem like that at the time. There's something about the hapless obliviousness of those present – and the vague wafting from backbenchers as they try and get the unnamed dust away from them – which is a little bit chilling.
Politicians are generally happy to be approached by strangers – it is all part and parcel of the job. Still, every so often one of them throws a cup of green slime in the face and this can be a little off-putting. Mandelson, who had wandered up to anti-aviation protester Leila Deen in a perfectly genial mood, chose to slink away into a nearby building after being slopped. Deen's technique – an upwards jerk of her entire body – was a little unorthodox, but certainly effective.
Not strictly a politician, but given the central role of his company in the political life of Westminster during the phone-hacking scandal Rupert Murdoch sneaks in the back door of this list. He was giving evidence to MPs in Westminster when a self-appointed comedian called Jonnie Marbles attempted to custard pie him. The attacker reckoned without the defensive prowess of Murdoch's then wife, Wendi Deng, however. Her extraordinary volleyball spike would have saved her husband complete humiliation if the abject evidence he had already provided to MPs had not already done so.
Ed Miliband (again)
And now this. Ed Miliband's second adventure in EggLand came at a London market, when a luridly-clad bald individual decided the best way to spend his lunchtime was to lob a number of eggs at the leader of the opposition. His reason – that the government is rubbish and that even "the shadow government do nothing" – appears to miss the point that the shadow government has zero power. But it has got everyone excited in a quiet news month, and is more than enough to justify a feature like this. Thanks very much for reading.