The British National Party have sparked a new row by advertising Golliwog dolls for sale at its Christmas party.
A flyer sent out by the party this week advertising a Christmas quiz and social evening set to take place at Ore Community Centre in Old London Road on Monday night. Alongside the time and details of the festive bash was a line advertising a wide range of Golliwog merchandise on sale and it is this that has caused the most outrage. The dolls are seen by many as racist but in recent years have been used by the far-right as a symbol of political correctness gone mad.
The term was first used in Florence Upton's 1895 book The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and subsequently picked up by Enid Blyton, who included a Golliwog in her Noddy books. Since then Golliwog has been seen by many as a derogatory term for a black person.
Just last year a shop in Rye was criticised in The Observer for selling Golly dolls and the news the local BNP will be flogging the dolls alongside St George crosses, Union Jacks and BNP regalia has sparked a host of angry complaints.
Chris Laverick, who recently organised a Love Music Hate Racism gig in Hastings, was one of many who was appalled. He said: "I understand the BNP is selling Golliwog dolls at there events. They clearly think that is amusing. That shows us that underneath their new image of suits and respectability there is still the racist and fascist thug that we remember from the 70's and 80's."
Hastings MP Michael Foster was equally outraged. He said: "I am surprised a community centre is dealing with an extremist group such as the BNP. What is more outrageous is the fact they are provocatively selling Golliwogs as a perfect Christmas gift."
Councillor Jeremy Birch, also condemned the BNP. He said: "This just confirms that this is a racist organisation. By selling these dolls as Christmas presents they are basically saying they are a party just for white people. I am also disappointed that a community centre meant to be serving local people has agreed to let an extremist group use its facilities."
A spokesman for the Ore Community Centre confirmed the BNP used the hall on a monthly basis, paying £15 an hour to do so, and that they "had never had any problems with them". However, the source added they would be holding a committee meeting to decide whether it was appropriate to let them continue to do so.
Nick Prince, the leader of the local BNP, defended the decision to sell the dolls. He said they also sold Golly fridge magnets and a range of patriotic toys such as teddy bears with England flag t-shirts on. He said: "Golliwogs are traditional toys which pre-date teddy bears by five years. People have a choice whether or not to buy them. If they offend people then they should not buy one. There is huge demand for Golliwog toys. We have actually sold out but we will be getting more in stock."