Failure to select enough candidates and apathy could  be among the factors in Labour’s election defeat in North Ayrshire.

That is the view from experienced Kilwinning North Ayrshire Councillor Donald Reid after his party were pushed into third place in this month’s election, behind the SNP and Tories.

But he admits much work has still to be done before they can establish in earnest what went wrong.

They picked up nine seats, two down on 2017 and were three behind the SNP and one adrift of surprise package the Conservatives, who gained two new seats.

Donald said: “This is a really challenging one to work out how, why and what.

“In multi-member wards no one can get power and the bigger the ward the more unlikely the results are going to be.

“Did Labour stand enough candidates? Maybe not. Did SNP stand enough ? They did well so probably yes. Did the Tories by always standing one candidate in most wards apart from the big ones? Probably yes.

“Could the SNP had done better if there hadn’t been four Yes-supporting organisations on the Arran ward? Very easily. The seat went automatically to the Tories as the vote was split.

“I feel the Tories wouldn’t have done well as well had there not been so much confusion over votes on the ballot paper. 

“There were a number of votes in Kilwinning and Saltcoats and Stevenston where the Tories wouldn’t have won had those votes been ones and twos  instead of xs, which didn’t count.

“If someone looks for a name on the ballot paper for a candidate, they look for who they recognise first and then they go with someone else. When that happens people have put two  xs and those votes won’t count.”

Asked why votes had been lost, he added: “Apathy was the bigger thing because the Tories will always get their vote out, the SNP get theirs out to some degree whereas Labour or undecided voters didn’t make a decision and stayed at home.

“I was slightly disappointed with turnouts which were more than five per cent down then five years ago, especially in the Three Towns where it was below 40 per cent whereas Arran got above 60 per cent.

“More has to be done to engage the electorate. We also need to encourage more candidates next time.”

Asked what lessons could be learned, he added: “There was nothing wrong with the campaign, national politics took over what was said locally and it became very much the Tories talking about a referendum and the SNP talking about a referendum.

“The Electoral Commission could have told people this was about issues like schools, social work, education and local roads.”

Added Donald: “We’ve still to do the post mortem to see if we focused too much on local politics and we just got lost because people were more interested in what was happening nationally. But I think the biggest thing is people said they couldn’t be bothered to vote as it made no difference, but it does.

“Even the Tories were surprised they did so well in  the election.

“I would say councils should be more about local services and local delivery, not national set priorities.

“I will work for what is best for the electorate as a whole in North Ayrshire. There are areas where we will agree with the SNP.”