Scottish Labour have selected their candidate for the Central Ayrshire seat at the next UK General Election. 

Local party members overwhelmingly voted to choose former diplomat Alan Gemmell as Labour’s candidate - ahead of two of the party's councillors in the area.

Mr Gemmell, 45, saw off challenges from Nairn MacDonald and Louise McPhater, who both represent parts of Irvine on North Ayrshire Council, and who have both been candidates in the Central Ayrshire seat at previous Westminster elections.

Party members backed Mr Gemmell as their local candidate following a hustings event on Thursday, December 14.

Mr Gemmell said: "It is a great honour to have been selected by local party members as the Westminster parliamentary candidate for Central Ayrshire. 

“I am looking forward to campaigning right across the constituency from now until the next General Election.

"I’m going to work hard for every vote, no matter how you’ve voted in previous elections and referendums.

"I want you to know I am listening and can be trusted to stand up for Central Ayrshire. I’m committed to making your lives and our communities better. It’s time for change and Labour is the change we need.” 

The Central Ayrshire seat, which covers Prestwick, Troon, Irvine and parts of Kilwinning, has been held by the SNP's Dr Philippa Whitford since 2015 when she won the seat from Labour's Brian Donohoe.

Dr Whitford announced earlier this year that she would not be seeking re-election.

The SNP have already chosen Troon's Annie McIndoe as their candidate for Central Ayrshire, while the Conservatives have selected David Rocks as their candidate for the seat.

Mr Gemmell was born and brought up in Girdle Toll and Irvine and spent most of his career working overseas with the British Council and as a British diplomat.

Latterly he was the British Trade Commissioner for South Asia, responsible for a team of more than 200 people that secured more than £4 billion of trade and investment for the UK and more than 18,000 new jobs.  

The General Election must be held by January 2025 at the latest, though many political pundits are speculating that it could be called for some time next year.