Why hasn't David Cameron sacked Bill Aitken for joking about rape?

The Glasgow side street where a woman was raped and (inset) Bill Aitken MSP

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A gang rape isn’t a subject that should elicit snide quips and disbelieving laughter. It’s now five days since a full transcript of leading Tory Bill Aitken doing exactly that was leaked to the New Statesman — so why hasn’t David Cameron ordered him to resign? Unbelievably, Aitken is the head of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

In the early hours of 11 February, a 38-year old woman was raped by three men in what was described by Strathclyde police as “a terrifying and extremely distressing attack”. In conversation with a Sunday Herald reporter, however, Aitken suggested that the victim was a prostitute

Aitken: Well, I really think we need to know a bit more about these. They are not always as they seem to be, put it that way.

Reporter: How do you mean?

Aitken: Errr. Well. If I was a woman up a lane.

Aitken goes on to say that “it is an area where quite a lot of the hookers take their clients” before literally laughing at the suggestion that the woman could have been dragged into an adjacent side street:

Reporter: She was raped in Renfrew Lane, but she was dragged off Renfield Street. I might be wrong.

Aitken: She must have been dragged about half a mile then. [LAUGHS] … If this woman was dragged halfway through the town, then it just couldn’t possibly happen.

Aitken may have survived this long owing to a parliamentary recess. As MSPs return to Holyrood, however, their minds may focus on the Conservative member for Glasgow and the motion calling for his resignation to be tabled later today by Green Patrick Harvie.

Tomorrow’s meeting of the Justice Committee will be fatal for Aitken if his colleagues move against him.

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2 Comments

  1. George
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    why hasn’t David Cameron ordered him to resign?

    Quite simple… David Cameron has no say in the matter. He’s not Aitken’s boss. Welcome to devolution, 12 years late ;0)

    Annabell Goldie, however, is his boss…

  2. Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    @George: Yes, we know. But this should be an issue of moral leadership for Cameron.

    As for devolution … what was the Tories’ stance on that in the 1990s again?

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