ANDY Burnham launches his leadership campaign to replace the wooden Sir Keir Starmer with a clever wheeze; attack Nicola Sturgeon over Covid travel restrictions to his part of England ("Burnham anger at Sturgeon over travel ban ‘hypocrisy’", The Herald, June 21). This guarantees him wide, and sympathetic, access to the Unionist media, as any attack on Sturgeon does these days.

The headlines of Ms Sturgeon's “hypocrisy” contrasts vividly with the broad lack of headlines that any similar complaint emanating from Scotland gets. You get a flavour of this with Douglas Ross’s nonsensical answers, typically not pursued by the BBC interviewer, over the lack of consultation with the devolved governments on the “Australia deal”. If Mr Ross thinks a five per cent cut in whisky tariffs ($1 off a bottle) will do wonders for the Scottish agriculture sector, then I have a bridge to sell him, courtesy of Messrs Johnson and Jack. So, good luck Andy Burnham: Labour needs a plucky trier, but you should aim your barbs at your real enemy.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

LABOUR ON A DEATH SLIDE

I DON’T think we need to take Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s over-the-top outburst too seriously. There’s a Labour leadership contest lurking just over the horizon, and Mr Burnham’s burning ambition is to lead that party. He’s clearly positioning himself for the tussle ahead.

Last week’s Chesham and Amersham by-election result was of course worse for Labour than for the Tories. By-elections are odd affairs and regularly produce one-off results. They give the electorate a free hit, voting in the knowledge that they won’t change the party in government. Chesham and Amersham will almost certainly go back to the Tories at the next General Election.

For Labour, and especially for Sir Keir Starmer, the by-election result was a catastrophe. The Tories lost 17,000 votes compared to the 2019 General Election, and it looks like none of them went to Labour. Indeed, the Labour vote fell by more than 6,000 to a miniscule 622 votes, only 1.6 per cent of the poll. Sir Keir is a smart guy, but it looks like stolid metropolitan lawyers don’t have much appeal outside London.

Labour threw itself down a slippery slope years ago, obsessed by internal power struggles and oblivious to changes in British society. Whether Mr Burnham or anyone else can pull Labour back from its death slide is anybody’s guess, but time is not on their side.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

STURGEON HAS LOST THE PLOT

LIKE many, I obviously anticipated your heading in today's Herald, after Andy Burnham's interview on BBC yesterday morning (June 20), concerning Nicola Sturgeon's Manchester travel ban. Let's be honest here – the First Minister has definitely lost the plot this time. And her silence over the past three days speaks volumes about her recognition of what must be one of her biggest faux pas since the epidemic began. This letter is prompted by seeing her on the BBC about 10 minutes ago, with the waving head, which always shows that she is not a happy lady, and having the audacity and gall to accuse Mr Burnham of preparing for his bid for leader of the Labour Party in the future.

Please resign now, First Minister, and let someone else from your party take over your position – a difficult task, I admit, when you look at the paucity of talent in your team.

Walter Paul, Glasgow.

GOING FOR THE EASY TARGETS

ANDY Burnham’s rage at the First Minister was more than justified. How dare she "ban" Scots from visiting the Manchester area? What possible right has she to do such a thing, a ruling, which, in any case, is entirely unenforceable and is clearly a sop to the anglophobic followers on the extremes of her party?

Mr Burnham spoke of "hypocrisy’’ and "double standards". Amen to that and he could have added arrogance. Again, entirely justified criticism when there are areas of Scotland with worse coronavirus figures than those under the political control of Mr Burnham, which she has chosen not to blacklist. In any case, if you are a Scotland football fan and drunk and draped in flags connected to the SNP, the rules apparently do not apply.

It is infinitely easier to ban trips to Manchester and block parents from seeing their children graduate from nursery schools than it is to stand up to belligerent football fans waving Saltires. Easy targets as well as hypocrisy, arrogance and double standards? Mr Burnham is being too kind.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

HeraldScotland:

WHEN CAN WE GET BACK TO DANCING?

IT was good to see Scotland fans in London enjoying themselves, as pictured above. I also had friends at the (Government-sanctioned) UEFA fan zone on Glasgow Green. They had a fantastic time singing, dancing and celebrating the performance with hundreds of others.

On Friday, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Yes sir, you all boogied" alongside two Saltire emojis. The definition of the verb to boogie is "to dance energetically, to pop or rock music".

Can the First Minister please clarify why dancing is currently still illegal in Scotland? Dancing is even banned at weddings just now. In the Scottish Government's "roadmap" (even at tier zero) there is no plan for the reopening of nightclubs or dance venues in the future at all. Even in bars, customers must remain seated and dance areas are not allowed.

In light of this tweet, can we expect an imminent relaxation on rules forbidding dancing?

Michael Bergson, Glasgow.

SNP ROLE IN SMOKING BAN

PETER A Russell chooses to rewrite history in relation to the smoking ban (Letters, June 19). In 2004, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell introduced a Member's Bill to the Scottish Parliament banning smoking in public areas serving food. The bill was then examined by the Health Committee and, at stage one, its members accepted his proposal but decided that it didn't go far enough.

Thereafter, the bill was taken forward by the Health Minister, Andy Kerr, applying the ruling to all enclosed public spaces, at which point Mr Maxwell's involvement seems to disappear and Labour, in the person of Jack McConnell, appears to claim all the credit.

Hopefully, this communication will refresh Mr Russell's memory and, for once, he will need to to accept that the SNP can, occasionally, get something right.

Gordon Evans, Glasgow.

I REFUSE TO BE MARGINALISED

I AM white, male, Christian, heterosexual, comfortable with my gender, thankfully free of mental health issues, proud to be Scottish and British, happy to accept that others may well disagree with me on a wide range of topics and have lived my life in the real world.

I am the first to admit that I am by no means perfect but hardly a day goes by without my feeling pilloried by someone given air time in the media about one, all or any combination of the above personal characteristics.

Are there any other readers similarly refusing to be marginalised?

Stewart Daniels, Cairneyhill.

SUPPORTING OUR TEACHERS

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY concur with the opinions about lead teachers in secondary schools expressed by Eric Melvin (Letters, June 21).

I was a principal teacher of physics for more than 20 years and having a secondment post in teacher training for two years I found that no matter how well qualified academically new teachers were, they needed a good bit of support in the methodology and equipment used in the laboratory.

In assessment they needed support in SQA examination questions to gauge the correct level and the "proper" answer.

This support can only be provided by a subject specialist and unfortunately some schools are lacking these. With the best will in the world, full-time "ordinary" teachers will not have the spare time to support a new probationer.

This can lead to a big reduction in practical work and, as at present, a skewing towards a more theoretical curriculum.

Ivor Matheson, Dumfries.

TORNESS CONFIDENCE IS MISPLACED

I FEEL sorry for Torness station director Tamer Albishawi ("Boss of giant Torness power plant makes case for nuclear", The Herald, June 21). He wasn’t born until after the bulldozers started work on the site. He won’t have been able to experience the peaceful tranquility of what was once a beautiful stretch of East Lothian coastline in the way that thousands of us who demonstrated against the construction were able to experience.

More importantly, perhaps Mr Albishawi can explain why he is so confident Torness can continue generating until 2030 when we know EDF expect cracks in the graphite core to start appearing around 2022, and Richard Bradfield, chief technical officer at EDF, has warned these cracks could mean it has to shut earlier?

Pete Roche, Edinburgh.

Read more: Thank goodness they are last seeing sense on teaching