The Parliamentary Constituency containing Ayr has undergone boundary changes over the years but was always represented by a Tory MP until the General Election of 1997. These Tory MPs included Sir George Younger, MP for Ayr Burghs, and great grandfather of the George Younger who later became the Tory MP for Ayr and who served in Thatcher's cabinet . Younger the Elder featured in a Para Handy tale about a by-election for Ayr Burghs. Younger the Younger was Thatcher's Secretary of State for Scotland and Defence Secretary and retired after scraping home in 1987 with a majority of 185 after a recount. The great grandson was preceded by Sir Thomas Moore who served as MP from 1925 until 1964. He was well known for his fascist sympathies. I remember talking to an old Labour Party member in Ayr who recalled his habit of arranging for a couple of farm hands to 'spontaneously' lift him shoulder high on his election and carry him into Wellington Square where he would make his acceptance speech. When they placed him back down he would slip them the agreed fee. However, this article isn't meant to be about successful candidates, but those who were Ayr's loss and who went on to serve as great Labour MPs.
In 1918 the Labour Candidate for Ayr Burghs was the Rev Campbell Stephen. Campbell had been a barrister and a teacher before becoming a United Free clergyman in Ardrossan. He gave up his charge to stand for Ayr Burghs unsuccessfully, and later became the ILP MP for Camlachie in Glasgow.
Several other Labour candidates for Ayr went on to serve as Labour MPs for other constituencies - Clarice McNab Shaw, Willie Ross, Alex Eadie and Jim Craigen.
Clarice McNab Shaw, Ayrshire's first woman Labour MP, stood in Ayr Burghs in 1929 and 1931, then in 1945 was elected MP for Kilmarnock. Sadly she did not live long enough to take up her seat in Parliament. A young demobbed army major, Willie Ross stood in Ayr Burghs in 1945 losing by only 700 votes after a recount. He went on the following year to win the by-election in Kilmarnock. Willie Ross became a hugely successful Secretary of State for Scotland in the Wilson Governments of the 1960s. Alex Eadie, a miner's son, was Labour candidate in Ayr in 1959 and again in 1964. He was elected Labour MP for Midlothian in 1966 and became a junior Energy Minister in Wilson's Government of 1974. He co-wrote with a certain Jim Sillars, an anti devolution pamphlet called 'Don't Butcher Scotland's Future'. His daughter-in-law, the late Helen Eadie, served as a Fife MSP. Jim Craigen stood in Ayr in 1970 and later became the MP for Maryhill until handing over there to Maria Fyfe.
As well as these successful figures of the Labour movement, Ayr also had a few also-rans worth a mention for other reasons. Turncoats included Chic Brodie and Murray Tosh who both stood as Lib Dems before becoming respectively an SNP and Tory MSP. In 1987 the SNP candidate in Ayr was a certain Colin Weir who came last but was to go on to much greater things. He never became an MP or MSP but did manage to land £161 million in the Euromillions Lottery in 2011. That certainly made up for the lost deposit!