NIGEL FARAGE tends to elicit a strong response wherever he goes. To some, the Brexit Party leader is a straight-talking man-of-the-people attempting to uphold the result of the 2016 referendum. To others, he is a right-wing ideologue spreading division and hate.

Either way, he is the leader of the political party that is currently topping the opinion polls ahead of Thursday’s European Parliamentary elections. As a result, he has a right to be heard.

Yesterday’s unsavoury scenes in Newcastle, which saw a protestor throw a milkshake over Mr Farage as he attempted to speak to voters outside Eldon Square, might have been warmly received by some of his opponents, but they did nothing to advance the cause of those who would seek to stand against the Brexit Party at the ballot box.

If you want to challenge Mr Farage’s beliefs and policies, engage in a political debate with him. Do not resort to petty attacks that prevent him from exercising his democratic right to electoral campaigning.

These are febrile political times, but no one benefits from a descent into violence and attacks in the street. Disagreeing with someone is not an excuse to abuse them. The same was true when Anna Soubry was harassed outside the Houses of Parliament.

The Brexit debate has created a tribal environment in which meaningful discussion has been all but silenced. Yesterday’s events in Newcastle marked another step in the slide towards the political gutter.