FOR those who do not know, or have forgotten, Richard Leonard was elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party partly because of his strong grasp of economic issues, partly because of his commitment to, and history in, the trade union movement with an outstanding record in fighting for members, and also just liking him for the person he is.

There could hardly be a greater contrast to Tony Blair’s intention to cast off the unions from New Labour, and glorying in the UK having substantial legislation to disfavour them.

Now Richard Leonard is being urged to heed a coded message from the man whose support for the USA in Iraq was so strong it made thousands of members leave in disgust and started the drop in electoral support.

I, for one, do not want Richard Leonard to step down. But it’s also not a good idea to go into an election with an interim, unelected leader.

Further, the SNP would feast on the well-known fact that it so happens that Jackie Baillie supports Trident. That could override attention to her capabilities and qualities.

My old friend and colleague George Foulkes is pursuing a right-wing agenda.

He has twice supported candidates for the UK leadership who came nowhere near winning. He is entitled to do that. But others feel duty-bound to point out the flaws in his argument.

Maria Fyfe.


It’s all right, ma, he’s only bleeding

I’M afraid your “On this Day” column (Herald, July 29) is incorrect to state that Bob Dylan was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on July 29, 1966.

There is no debate that he came off his Triumph motorcycle on this date but there is no evidence of severe injury or even hospitalisation.

The enigmatic Mr Dylan used what was probably a case of gravel rash to retreat from the relentless pressures of touring and recording which had propelled him to global fame in the six tumultuous years after leaving small-town Minnesota for New York.

What is remarkable is that he is still touring and recording at the age of 79, his double album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, being released to critical acclaim last month.

Iain Gunn, Sheriffmill, Elgin.

Appalling cuts to overseas aid budget

I WAS disgusted to read on the BBC website about a £2.9 Billion cut in the overseas aid budget published (to avoid scrutiny) in a parliamentary paper on Thursday.

This was just as Westminster was going into the summer recess.

People living in overcrowded slums and refugee camps in poor countries are now facing far greater dangers from Covid 19 than anyone in this country.

Yet our Brexiteer, xenophobic Tory Government have decided to cut overseas aid by 18.4 per cent (from £15.8 billion) with the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, seeking to excuse it by citing the UN recommended minimum of 0.7 per cent of GDP.

The Disasters Emergency Committee and UNICEF have been appealing for donations to help cope with Coronavirus in refugee camps.

They face critical shortages of PPE and, as a result, high infection and mortality rates among medical personnel.

It is disheartening for those of us who contribute to these appeals to see the Westminster Government sneak through a disastrous reduction in overseas aid in this time of international crisis.

John Dennis,


Dumfries & District Trades Union Council,