GOLLIWOGS are part of British culture and should not be regarded as offensive, a Tory councillor said today.
Dominic Heslop, who represents Pentland Hills ward, spoke out as police confirmed they were investigating a complaint about a golliwog which features in a mural at a city primary school painted 80 years ago.
As the row escalated over the historic painting on the wall of the assembly hall at Wardie Primary, Councillor Heslop said: “The golliwog is part of our culture and history and to pretend otherwise is absurd.
“The wonderful painting at Wardie Primary School should not be seen as an embarrassment, but rather a symbol of the transition from old perceptions to the 21st century.
“I doubt very much if communities in Edinburgh or elsewhere in this country would take offence at this mural. This is an overreaction and political correctness gone mad.”
The row started after Margaret Neizer-Rocha, who was visiting the school looking for a place for her son, spotted the golliwog and complained to the police, city council and MSPs that the image was “racist and offensive”.
But others dismissed Ms Neizer-Rocha’s claims. Former Wardie pupil Anne Wilson, 54, from Trinity, said the issue had been blown out of all proportion.
She said: “I’m leaping to the defence of the school. My father went to the school in 1932 and I went there in 1964. No-one ever made any issue about the mural. When I went back for an anniversary celebration, I’d forgotten all about that mural, but going into the assembly hall and seeing it, it all came back. It’s incredible that someone has walked in and said it’s racist.
“I don’t want to see it vanishing – it’s a piece of Wardie’s heritage.”
Henry Westwater, whose father Robert painted the mural, insisted his father was “no racist” but said he understood why the image may offend. He said: “It was painted in 1936, when people’s perception of things was somewhat different.”
He said he would not like to see part of the mural “hacked out” but if people felt strongly enough that it should be painted out “that would be OK”.
A police spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh have received a complaint in relation to a mural at a primary school in the Trinity area. Officers are now liaising with Edinburgh City Council education department with regards to this matter.
“Police Scotland treats all reports relating to hate incidents seriously and will investigate whenever a report of this nature is made.”
CONSERVATIVES RAGE AT FAKE SITE
THE Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association (EUCUA) is seeking legal advice after discovering a fake website set up in its name.
The site, titled Edinburgh University Tory Association, bears a striking resemblance to the real one, but closer inspection reveals a number of anomalies – including the listing of Ukip leader Nigel Farage under their “distinguished alumni” and a page, titled Friends, which links directly to a white supremacist forum.
A spokesman for the real association said: “Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association condemns this immature attempt to smear the association by creating a false website to spread malicious lies.
“This is a puerile attempt at besmirching EUCUA, and has no place in the constructive political discourse that is in place at Edinburgh University.”
The EUCUA also said it is seeking legal advice on the site from EUSA societies’ team, as well as the students association president Hugh Murdoch.