"WAY I see it, if you don’t want to be milkshaked, don’t incite hatred. Simple”. So said the BAME journalist, Sunni Hundal, of the Liberal Conspiracy blog, commenting on the milk shake assault against Nigel Farage. This action has been been celebrated across social media and by many left-wing journalists as a legitimate act of political humiliation. Just a bit of fun. He’s a racist anyway and isn’t racism a form of violence? Get over it.

Well, I like a laugh as much as the next hack, but I wonder how Mr Hundal would react if a politician of colour, like say Chuka Umunna, were to have a milk shake thrown over him? Or Diane Abbott or Humza Yousaf? Or Mr Hundal? Would that be so hilarious? Just a part of the knockabout tradition of British politics? Or would it be held as proof that violence against minorities is rife and that Brexit Britain is turning fascist?

READ MORE: The evolution of protests: Milkshakes have replaced eggs as the UK's political weapon 

But, say the “shakers” on Twitter: “Farage IS a fascist, or good as – milkshakes are too good for racists”. First of all, Mr Farage is not a fascist or even a racist: he’s a populist. There is a huge difference. He is also the leader of a democratic party in an election campaign. I may be an unequivocal Remainer, but I find this behaviour from some on my own side deeply troubling. By using hysterical language to justify common assault, the merry band of milkshakers are essentially accusing more than half the voting population of the UK of being racists and Nazi sympathisers. What a great way to win an election.

The milkshake has been a propaganda coup for Mr Farage at the close of a campaign in which he is well on the way to destroying the Conservative Party, and in which his Brexit Party is even making remarkable, and disturbing, progress in Scotland. The affair sums up how the political parties and journalists on the left have failed to understand why Mr Farage and the Brexit Party have dominated this election. It is less to do with “dark money” than with the intemperate language used against people who support the perfectly legitimate aim of leaving the European Union.

Read more: Brexit Party faces probe into ‘illegal donations’

Now, I agree that Brexiters are wrong and that our economic and political life will be damaged by leaving the EU. I deeply resent my European citizenship being taken away without my consent. I believe Brexit Party supporters have been misled by mendacious politicians into believing that their freedom has somehow been undermined by a mythical Brussels “superstate”. But somehow I don’t think calling Leavers racists and Nazi-sympathisers is going to persuade them that they are wrong.

And what better way to hand the moral high ground to the political right than to make them look more civilised, more democratic and more in control of their emotions? Like the “Bollocks to Brexit” slogan from the Liberal Democrats, and Remain journalists talking about “mopping up the piss” after Brexit Party meetings, this is the behaviour of losers: of people who have lost the argument and lost control of their own childish passions.

We keep hearing lamentations about how Brexit has debased political discourse in this country. Remember when the MP Anna Soubry was barracked by Brexit supporters outside Parliament in January? Politicians and commentators said this demonstrated how politics had been corrupted by hate, and that the Brexiters were to blame. It was all toxic masculinity. Yet here were the same people justifying throwing stuff at politicians in the street. This is ok now, because, well, Brexiters are nasty people and they deserve it.

Ms Soubry was almost speechless hearing the Guardian’s Zoe Williams, on BBC radio, trying to justify the attack on Mr Farage as a legitimate expression of political dissent. It is not: these are the tactics and actions of the far right being adopted by the supposedly liberal left. Shouting at politicians is not illegal; common assault and criminal damage is. Wait till the missiles are directed at Ms Williams. Or the next time Jeremy Corbyn is egged outside a mosque.

READ MORE: Nigel Farage hit by milkshake during campaign walkabout 

We all remember the howls of outrage when Labour’s former Scottish leader Jim Murphy was hit by an egg thrown by a Yes supporter during the 2014 Scottish referendum campaign. That was condemned by politicians and newspaper commentators as a “mob attack” which showed that the independence movement was aggressive and undemocratic. It fed into the attempt, led by the author JK Rowling, to portray the SNP as an ugly nationalist party that tolerated anti-English racism. But it didn’t stop 1.6 million voting Yes.

Like independence, Brexit has taken on the character of a culture war, in which a whole range of grievances and issues are condensed into one simple choice: in or out of Europe. Brexit is the howl of rage by the left-behinds in provincial England, and some parts of Scotland, against a complacent metropolitan elite. These are people who don’t accept that they are racist because they want to see controls on immigration, or neo-fascists because they want globalisation curbed to restore their jobs and living standards.

Again, I think they are mistaken in believing that migrants have taken their jobs and significantly reduced wages. The fate of British Steel confirms that leaving the European Union isn’t going to bring the jobs back. The predatory behaviour of international capitalism is not going to be addressed by leaving the European Single Market, which includes protections against social dumping. Nor will the living standards of working people be improved by Britain’s departure from the biggest and wealthiest free trading area on the planet.

But as they go to the polls tomorrow to cast their vote in these important European elections, what will Brexit voters have uppermost in their minds? Not the merits or otherwise of mass migration, or the benefits of free trade and common environmental standards, but a burning sense of injustice at being called racists and nativists by metropolitan liberals who are laughing and celebrating the very kind of behaviour they affect to deplore. That’s why Mr Farage will get the last laugh against the milkshake pranksters.