The word 'Tory' and plural 'Tories' were said 30 times last week despite a recent ban in council meetings - with the Provost maintaining it was 'disrespectful' in the way it was being used after Conservative complaints.

Councillors were told the Provost’s word was final on the matter by senior officers, despite disagreements from Labour councillors and the SNP as well as issues of freedom of speech being raised at the last full council meeting [Wednesday, September 15].

After Irvine South Cllr Robert Foster used the word Tory several times – when a motion criticising Universal Credit policies was ruled 'incompetent' due to council officers being unable to campaign – Cllr Todd Ferguson said: “Point of order, in fairness I had a go at Cllr Gurney for saying 'Tory, Tory Tory'.

“Is it too hard to ask that in this chamber you refer to us as Conservatives?”.

After the Provost asked he desist, Cllr Robert Foster said: “I will continue to call them Tories.”

Provost Ian Clarkson said: “I think I made it very clear in a meeting prior to this in the chamber that word is not to be used, it was not respectful. Cllr Foster I’m asking you not to use it again.

He added: “I did rule on it and I’ve thought about it since, Cllr Foster I would ask you not use that word in the chamber again.

SNP leader Marie Burns said: “I think we need to be really careful if we’re going to prohibit members in this chamber using language widely used and adopted elsewhere even by their own party.”

Cllr Tony Gurney said: “In my question I want to refer to public statements made by a Twitter account called ScotsTories, set up by the Conservative and Unionist Party.

“I’m unclear how I mention the ScotsTories Twitter account – which is how they choose to call themselves in that public sphere – without saying ScotsTories which is something you’re not so keen on.“