Monday, 21 February 2011

Bye Bye Baillie

So, farewell then Bill Aitken.
Quitting the convenorship of his beloved justice committee just four weeks before stepping down as an MSP will be a real wrench for the Glasgow Tory.
But as the statements from the other parties show today, he had little option.
If he hadn't gone voluntarily (albeit in a mighty strop), he would quite possibly have been forced out by the censure motion tabled by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.
Aitken's comments to the Sunday Herald speculating on whether a gang rape victim was a prostitute were unacceptable, and everyone else knew it, even if Baillie Bill was slow to catch on.

For the record, I've always liked Bill Aitken.
He's a convivial soul, extremely well briefed on his subject - being on first name terms with many a judge and sheriff no doubt helps - and a Godsend to journalists needing a punchy quote on deadline.
The latter point probably explains why some other outlets were slow to follow the story.
It was a messy end to a long career, but, quite frankly, it was self-inflicted, and that's that.

His resignation statement, which I posted here, is interesting for more than one reason.
Yes, there's what some have called the 'graceless' tone.
But far more illuminating is what's missing.
When Wendy Alexander quit as an MSP last week we had a full exchange of letters with Iain Gray.
When Frank McAveety quit as head of the public petitions committee last year we had his letter to Gray.
But when Aitken goes we have a "to whom it may concern" statement.
It doesn't mention Annabel Goldie at all.
Because he wanted to keep her out of it in a last selfless act of loyalty?
Or because she insisted he resign and he can't bear to mention her name?
Or because she tried to run away from the whole affair, neither condemned nor defended him, showed a profound lack of leadership, underscored her irrelevance, and that's why he can't bear to mention her?
I know which theory I prefer.
Regardless, this was another Tory mess on which Annabel was posted AWOL.
Her rivals, inside and outside the Scottish Conservatives, will take note.

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