Golliwogs maybe started as children's dolls, but there's no denying that 'golliwog' is - and has been for a long time - a deeply racist slur. I bet Carol Thatcher would not have used it had there been a black person present in the green room. It's right she has been dropped by the BBC (Jonathan Ross was allowed back because he has some kind of talent, Carol Thatcher is however utterly replaceable).
I even worried about using the word in my book - my (white) character refers to an old man in the hospital cafe - it's early eighties:
One of his eyes was sewn shut and he had golliwog badges on his lapels.
I left it in because in the seventies, you collected marmalade jar labels and sent off for a golliwog badge, and wore it on your school blazer. (Yes, I was a mixed race child innocently wearing a golliwog badge on her blazer.) And referring to the doll as golliwog was one thing, referring to a person as golliwog another.
However, in 2009 the word is clearly wrong, it feels wrong, in any context. Language changes as people evolve, but obviously Thatcher hasn't caught up. My brother and I used to go to the swing park and say the worst swear words we could think of - with glee and just for the hell of it. We were nine and ten. Maybe Carol and Prince Charles and Prince Harry could get together at the swings and have a racist word fest?