Letters — 30 April 2016
Letter to the Editor: Eggs and tomatoes

Dear Sir,

Throwing eggs or tomatoes at politicians perceived as having behaved badly is Britain’s most traditional form of political protest. In Belize, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is our nation’s Head of State, and her representative is the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young. Belize also emulates Britain by practicing the Westminster model of government, and its parliamentary form.

The list of British politicians who have either been egged or tomatoed, or both, by the British people, include Prime Minister David Cameron, his predecessors Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher (she was daffodil-ed), John Major and Tony Blair, as well as Blair’s Deputy, John Prescott. Other notable political figures incurring the wrath of the British people and subjected to similar treatment include cabinet ministers such as Michael Heseltine, Norman Tebbit, Nick Brown and Ruth Kelly. Even party leaders such as Labour’s Ed Milliband, the BNP’s Nick Griffin and UKIP’s Nigel Farage, as well as the Labour grandee, Peter Mandelson, and the politician, George Galloway, have not been immune from this very practical and eloquent form of protest.

British protesters and voters usually prefer using eggs, in Greece it is yoghurt, and in the Middle East it is shoes, as George Bush and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak can well testify. But global grandees such as America’s Bill Clinton, billionaire Bill Gates, the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch and America’s Arnold Schwarzenegger have all experienced either eggs, vegetables, fruits, custard, chocolate eclairs or shoes hurled at them. Some of the reasons for these protests range from people being unhappy with their country’s policy on Iraq and its waging war there, plans for a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, environmental concerns, the abolition of hunting, austerity measures, agricultural policies which a powerful farmers’ union were against and to educational policies that would lead to the closure of a local school. But, not only are powerful individuals who have fallen foul of public opinion egged, as the case may be, in 2009 the Irish Bank, AIB, was egged as a result of the Irish banking crisis!

Protests like these date as far back as AD 63, when the citizens of Rome, angry at Governor Vespasian’s spiteful and harsh policies, pelted him with turnips. And, audiences at William Shakespeare’s productions in Elizabethan England thought it fitting to reward poor acting by throwing eggs at the culprits. We also see the 19th century novelist, George Eliot, in her novel, “Middlemarch”, featuring egg-throwing at political figures as a form of valid political protest.

Unfortunately, one of the many tragedies in Belize in these most challenging of times, is the overwhelming  political inability to face the substance and instead spend valuable time which can be ill afforded chasing shadows and imaginary enemies. When one is unknowing, it is easy to misunderstand and make false assumptions based on this ignorance. Happily, there is a school of thought which subscribes to the belief that egg throwing is good for democracy and states inter alia that: when “a party’s (or government’s) agenda has been set elsewhere, there’s little point in seeking to reason with it … there’s no other way they’re going to listen. So, say it with food.”

Case rested!

Therese Belisle Nweke,
Lagos, NIGERIA

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