These are the photos that caused two prospective Tory councillors to resign from the party
Bill and Star Etheridge are seen posing with a controversial golly doll. 41-year-old Mr Etheridge was due to stand for the Tories in the Dudley Council elections in May along with his wife Star, aged 39. But a Conservative Party disciplinary committee suspended the pair after a complaint from party volunteers. The couple have now resigned from the party and Mr Etheridge said he was joining UKIP instead.
Mr Etheridge said he posted the pictures on Facebook to promote a “healthy debate” about the toy after the couple bought one on a market stall. He and Star organise their local branch of The Campaign Against Political Correctness.
“We thought we’d post pictures of it as an interesting talking-point and to provoke a healthy debate,” said the dad-of-three. “We never said ‘bring back gollies’. I’m aware some people may be offended, but they’re offended on behalf of someone else – they’re do-gooders.”
Conservative disciplinary committee secretary Stephen Phillips wrote to the pair about their 30-day suspension on Friday. He said: “The committee is satisfied that the complaint raises serious issues that might bring the party into disrepute and/or that you may be guilty of conduct not compatible with membership of the Conservative Party.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Following a complaint by members of the voluntary party in the area, two Conservative members have resigned from the party.”
Mr Etheridge added: “We do not intend to be silenced and will increase our campaigning against political correctness.”
And UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass said he would be welcomed into their party. He said: “Bill’s decision to join UKIP is yet another boost for the party and an endorsement of all the good work we have done here.”