A FORMER Barrhead councillor who won a famous election victory as a Conservative has made a dramatic switch to Labour.

Paul Aitken became the town’s first Tory councillor in more than a quarter of a century when he was elected in 2017.

Less than a year later, he controversially quit the party and announced he was going it alone as an Independent.

Mr Aitken, who represented Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor, was later put forward for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party as a prospective candidate at the 2019 General Election.

Now he has been supporting Scottish Labour on the campaign trail in East Renfrewshire.

Mr Aitken told the Barrhead News he joined Labour last July.

He added: “I have no plans to stand as a candidate and I’m happy to be a local activist, helping out the party.”

On social media, a local Labour branch posted a photograph of Mr Aitken leafleting with East Renfrewshire Council’s deputy leader Andrew Anderson in Eaglesham on Saturday.

It included the caption: “Really good campaigning session in Eaglesham today with Cllr Anderson. Very positive reception, lots of people planning to return to [Scottish Labour].”

Councillor Chris Lunday, who represents Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor for the SNP, is among those to comment on Mr Aitken’s decision to campaign for Labour.

He said: “Labour are a pale imitation of the Tories.”

Challenged by one social media user on Mr Aitken’s political conversion, Labour’s Eastwood branch said: “Scottish Labour are looking forward to welcoming many people who previously voted for other parties.”

Mr Aitken’s election as a Conservative councillor in Barrhead was hailed as a breakthrough moment for the party in an area where they had been unpopular for a number of years.

When announcing his decision to quit the Tories in 2018, he said he had felt “bound by party diktat.”

At the time, Labour politician Paul O’Kane, who was deputy leader of East Renfrewshire Council and is now an MSP for West Scotland, urged Mr Aitken to resign as a councillor and defend his seat as an Independent in a by-election “to see if people want to back his perspective.”

Mr Aitken was not on the ballot for the last General Election and is thought to have stood down as part of a Brexit Party deal with the Conservatives to avoid splitting the Eurosceptic vote.

He lost his Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor seat at last year’s local elections.

Scottish Labour did not respond to a request for comment.