A COUNCILLOR whose election was seen as a sign of a Scottish Conservative revival has resigned from the party complaining about a lack of internal democracy.

Paul Aitken, who became the first Tory councillor elected in Barrhead in 25 years last May, quit after saying he would not be bound by “party diktat”.

It is understood the move follows a series of disagreements between Mr Aitken and fellow Tory councillors in East Renfrewshire.

Mr Aitken says he will now sit as an Independent, however Labour have called on him to resign from the local authority and stand for re-election.

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In a statement announcing his decision with “immediate effect”, Mr Aitken said he would “no longer have an association with a political party”.

He said: “I have always felt that the real bosses of local councillors are their constituents, not their political parties. "Local councillors should not feel bound by party diktat in relation to what they may say or how they may vote.

“Local councillors answer to their constituents. That is how local democracy should work.

“From now on, I will be privileged to serve the people of Barrhead and Uplawmoor as an Independent Councillor."

Mr Aitken, a solicitor working for Midlothian Council, was publicly supported last year by Eastwood Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

In the run-up to the council vote, Mr Carlaw said Mr Aitken was part of a local Tory “dream team” who would held oppose a second independence referendum and protect services.

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He also described Mr Aitken as a “fantastic” candidate last January and was quick to celebrate his election, posting a picture of himself with Mr Aitken after the count.

“Congratulations to Paul Aitken on becoming first Conservative Cllr in Barrhead in 25 years,” he tweeted, adding it appeared a good omen for the coming general election.

Labour Councillor Paul O’Kane, the deputy leader of East Renfrewshire, said voters should be allowed to say whether they still wanted Mr Aitken without his party allegiance.

He said: “Paul Aitken was elected as a Conservative in Barrhead and many people will have voted from him on the back of his pledge of No to a second independence referendum. Now he wants to be Independent.

“People need to know what his platform is and whether they support that.

“So I’m calling on Paul Aitken to resign from East Renfrewshire Council and stand as an Independent candidate to see if people want to back his perspective.”

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Mr Aitken’s resignation does not affect the council's political control, which is run by an alliance of SNP, Labour and Independent councillors.

Councillor Gordon Wallace, chair of East Renfrewshire Conservative & Unionist Association, said: “East Renfrewshire Conservatives are obviously disappointed by Paul Aitken’s decision. However, we wish him and his family well in the future.”