One of the Boys: Beer and Populism in Contemporary British Politics
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Rankine, A., Tominc, A. and Irwin, M. (2023) ‘One of the Boys: Beer and Populism in Contemporary British Politics’, in M. Patterson and N. Pullen (eds) The Geography of Beer: Policies, Perception, and Place. Springer.
A part-full pint glass of a deep brown ale glinting with red-amber hues is the perpetual prop of the British right-wing populist Nigel Farage. Few things stereotypically communicate working class Englishness quite so decidedly as a pint of bitter. This symbolic consumption of beer, as a low cultural signifier within British politics, is not limited to Farage, but is rather endemic to British politicians from Boris (Johnson) hefting a keg, to teetotaller Sunak raising a glass, and Sturgeon serving behind the bar. These middle-class, elites communicate their authentic, working class image to their voters in this way framing images of this beer consumption in the recent work on the use of food in populist rhetoric (e.g. Santamaria 2021; Parasecoli 2022), this chapter will explore the use of beer as a classed signifier of British national identity, and its use by contemporary British politicians for populist political messaging from 2016, when the Brexit referendum was first announced, to the end of Johnson’s PM mandate in mid-2022.