In a conversation in the green room after a broadcast, Thatcher referred to an unnamed black tennis player as a golliwog. Despite being given ample opportunity to apologise publicly, she has declined to do so.
This is not a case of political correctness gone mad. This is a well-known public figure (if only because she is the daughter of a former prime minister) making a blatantly racist statement in a room full of TV people and journalists.
Thatcher's response - that she only used the term jokingly - is typical of many of her ilk who simply don't understand the power of language to reinforce prejudice. Despite great progress, there are still millions of people with deeply racist attitudes. When they hear a well-known public figure use such language it can only serve to reaffirm their outdated and bigoted beliefs.
There are only two positions in the debate about racism and racist language. Either you accept racism and see such language as harmless fun, or you oppose it and condemn language that gives succor to racists. Thankfully the BBC has seen fit to do the former. In doing so, it redeems itself, slightly, for its refusal to give airtime to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza.