Whenever someone starts a sentence with “I’m not a racist/homophobe but…” there is typically a torrent of racist or homophobic abuse that follows that opening, despite the limp protest. Nonetheless, I shall open this blogging journal with the following….

I’m not in favour of witchhunts but….

…. Bill Aitken really does need to resign as Convener of the Justice Committee in light of his comments regarding a recent spate of rapes in Glasgow city centre. If there wasn’t a transcript available the quotes would defy belief.

When it comes to the calling of a politician’s head I am usually more on the lenient, forgiving and/or understandable side. I didn’t believe that Peter Mandelson had to resign in either of the pickles he found himself in, I didn’t believe that Nicola Sturgeon or John Swinney had any reason to resign over the past year and I never even believed that Wendy Alexander had good reason to step down as leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament. Indeed, I wouldn’t even have minded if that couple who faked the husband’s death in the canoeing insurance scam had been let off by a chuckling judge whose only reprimand was to call them a pair of cheeky scamps. Life’s complicated after all and almost anything goes as far as I tend to stand.

This situation with Bill Aitken is different. In suggesting there is a difference between the rape of a woman who is not a prostitue and and one that is, he has compromised beyond reparation his standing as the Convener of the Justice Committee and, if he was to be standing in the 2011 election, his standing as an MSP would be similarly impossible. A journalist was recently killed in Egypt while covering the riots in protest against Hosni Mubarak. I wonder how many people would accept the sentiment that he/she ‘had it coming’ given their line of work? Not many I reckon but, for me, there is little difference between that opinion and the opinion so freely offered by the Conservative MSP.

So, Bill has to go. However, it is not clear what job(s) the numerous calls for ‘resignation’ are specifically in relation to. There is surely little to be gained from the Glasgow regional MSP standing down from the Scottish Parliament altogether as a result of his comments, just over two months shy of an election. Leaving the Justice Committee is punishment enough and a sufficient example being made of the prehistoric mindset that any nation’s Parliament shouldn’t tolerate.

I have recently been of the view that politicians need to say what they think deep down more often, to not live in fear or favour of the media and to not tread a converging path to middle-of-the-road insipid vapidity, but that was with a mind to Conservatives or Lib Dems speaking out against coalition policy or any politician bravely starting an unpopular but ultimately worthy campaign. With these comments, delivered quite unbelievably direct to a journalist, Bill Aitken has shone a light into his innermost thoughts, not just on women but also on race, and has badly let himself and his party down. This is not a whoopsy, this is not a foot in mouth moment or a misspeaking. Indeed, it is not even clear what Bill is ‘unreservedly apologising’ for as the words are so plainly his views on the matter. With regards to the rhetoric, he even offered to “toughen it up”. Heaven knows what that would have involved. And how Annabel Goldie hasn’t already forced his hand is anyone’s guess.

There are too many bloggers who have already written on this to mention and the Facebook page calling for a resignation is approaching 1,000 members. Furthermore, Patrick Harvie will be raising a motion in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow calling for a resignation, a motion that Bill surely cannot survive beyond if it goes against him.

It is important that these efforts are successful and, for once, it is important that the resignation-callers get their man.