As this goes up the Facebook page ‘Bill Aitken Must Go’ has over 500 people supporting it. The title of this page is not ‘Bill Aitken is abhorrent’ or ‘Bill Aitken is wrong’ – it calls for Aitken to resign, it expresses a desire for action.
And action in this circumstance is what is needed.
Not routine chastisement from other politicians, vague disappointment from those who previously got on with him, or blame of the nature of the interview which Annabel Goldie has so far done.
“There is no excuse and no justification for Bill Aitken’s comments, made in a telephone conversation with a Sunday Herald journalist. They are unacceptable and he must resign from his convenorship of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee. By these comments he has proven himself unfit to hold the post. It does not matter that he is about to retire nor that there are only a few weeks of parliamentary activity left. If the institution itself is not to be brought into disrepute, he must resign. If he fails to do so, then other committee members must effect his removal.”
As can now be seen from the full transcripts of the interview in the Sunday Herald this is not a case of a journalist trapping a politician into making a blunder. This is not a misunderstanding. Aitken’s views are clear and unashamed for all to see in the original transcript of his words.
His are not the repugnantly sexist comments recently made by misogyny double act Gray and Keys. Nor are they akin to Frank McAveety’s lecherous drawls made last year.
They transcend sexism and lechery and assert a view about rape that is both repulsive and wrong. That any woman ever has responsibility to take for her rape fundamentally goes against its very definition and must not be tolerated. Attitudes towards rape, banishing views that a woman is ever ‘asking for it’ are one of the greatest hurdles left for female equality in the West, and these comments by Aitken demonstrate that we still have a way to go. Such views are ingrained in patriarchy, and with Aitken remaining in his role clearly these views sit easily with the modern Tory party.
Is it because he will only be in the job for another few weeks? He doesn’t need to jump or be pushed, because Parliament is soon to dissolve and he isn’t standing again so won’t be around for much longer… No need to make a fuss. Let him finish his job.
Aitken is not a dying cat who sicked up on the carpet and who it would be unfair and unnecessary to punish. He has expressed truly abhorrent views, and in not resigning or being forced to resign he will leave his role as Convenor of the Justice Committee with a degree of dignity that is not deserving.
The Facebook group is not called ‘It’s ok because Bill Aitken won’t be Convenor of the Justice Committee for much longer, thank God, wasn’t he misplaced in that role eh?!’ It is called ‘Bill Aitken must go’, and go he must.
We are calling on all women’s rights groups to sign an open letter to the Justice Committee to demand Aitken’s resignation.
If you are in support of this please leave a comment below and we will forward on Friday to the national press and to the committee as they return from recess on Monday. This is a cross-party / non-party issue. The letter simply reads:
Dear Justice Committee, Bill Aitken’s comments about violence against women in Glasgow are repugnant. He is not fit to stand in office and his continued presence as your representative demeans the committee’s good work and the whole parliament. We demand his immediate resignation as a mark of respect for women everywhere.
Yours the Undersigned…