Monday, February 21, 2011

Bill Aitken resigns as Holyrood Justice Convener

Bill Aitken has tonight decided to step down as Holyrood's Justice Convener over comments he made to the Sunday Herald about a series of rapes in Glasgow. I've written at length on this in recent days so I won't go over that ground.

I'm glad he's done the decent thing as I've said he should go all along. However, there's a bit of me that would rather he'd got what he'd done wrong. His resignation statement implies that he doesn't really feel that he's transgressed in any way:

"In politics, you have to have a thick skin. But this issue is no longer about me. For far too many people, perception is reality. 
Today I am standing down as convener of the Justice committee. 
"I do so with a mixture of emotions. Frustration at allowing myself to be misrepresented. Anger at being misrepresented. And remorse to rape victims and their loved ones for any hurt they feel."
The New Statesman last week published what they say is a leaked excerpt of the comments, and I'm not sure that gives Bill Aitken anywhere to hide.

Anyway, he's gone now. Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown had this to say on his departure:

It’s highly unfortunate that Bill Aitken’s distinguished political career should end in this way as a result of badly chosen and ill-advised comments.
“He has been an excellent convener of the Justice Committee.  However it is important that no rape victim feels in any way that their rights would not be fully and totally upheld and defended by the Parliament and Parliamentarians.” 

Although I don't think I've ever agreed with Bill Aitken, I do understand what Robert has said about him being a good parliamentary performer up until now. It's a shame that he'll be remembered for these comments more than the 12 preceding years. 

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