"They saw it as a harmless stunt to highlight the more hysterical elements of the politically correct bandwagon. But perhaps it proved their point a little too well. Two prospective Tory councillors have resigned from the Conservative Party after being suspended for posting pictures of themselves holding golliwog dolls on Facebook.
Married couple Bill and Star Etheridge, who campaign against political correctness, say they were trying to promote ‘healthy debate’ about whether the doll was a racist symbol. But the pair were summoned before a disciplinary committee after a colleague made a complaint.
Mr Etheridge, 41, who was due to stand alongside his wife for the Tories in the Dudley Council elections in May, has now joined UKIP as he claims his right to express his views is being stifled by the Conservative Party.
He said: ‘We just wanted to stimulate debate and gollies are a perfect example of an innocent child’s toy that’s been transformed into something sinister by the politically correct brigade. ‘We need to get back to a point where people can say what they think and not live in fear. That’s real democracy.’
Mrs Etheridge, 39, a mother-of-three, said she and her husband had wanted to promote debate, not cause offence. She added: ‘It’s just a child’s toy and the politically correct brigade are the ones who have turned it into a racist symbol. I grew up in Bury in Lancashire, so I have a lot of black and Asian friends and as children we had golly dolls and we never once thought of them as racist.
‘Some people say it is offensive, but they’re generally do-gooders who are offended on behalf of other people.’
Golliwog dolls have been around for more than a century and first appeared as friendly characters in children’s books in the 1890s.