ANYONE not previously concerned about the present Government's Orwellian attempts to manipulate the UK media will be forced to think again in the wake of the Channel 4 climate change leaders' debate. ("Channel 4 licence threat amid row over ice ‘stunt’", The Herald, November 29). As Boris Johnson again sought to avoid the public scrutiny involved in pitting wits against the leaders of other political parties, his Environment Minister, Michael Gove, arrived at Channel 4 studios with his own camera crew in tow to try and browbeat Channel 4 staff into allowing him to perform in the debate, knowing full well that his presence was not appropriate nor required as he did not lead any particular political group.

Following the understandable refusal for him to participate, Mr Gove then sought to denigrate other party leaders with schoolboy insults and lambast Channel 4 presenters and producers. Mr Gove's premeditated stunt was carried out to try to intimidate an arm of the broadcasting media in an effort to ensure their compliance in future coverage of the Government. It was no surprise that a Tory source then informed us that Channel 4's public service broadcasting licence will be reassessed in the likely event of a Conservative election victory, a transparent and disquieting attempt to bully them into a BBC style subservience.

In my opinion, Channel 4 has been proportionate, fair and thorough in all its political reporting and will call out hypocrisy and lying when it is in the public interest. In that light, it should be obvious to any impartial observer why the present Government sees them as an existential threat at this exact moment in time.

Owen Kelly, Stirling.

AT last we, the people/the voters, have got one over the obnoxious Prime Minister, via and thanks to Channel 4 As we know, last night's political programme should have had the leaders of the main parties appearing and discussing climate change as the serious issue it is. And for once, the arrogant, self-obsessed, control freak who is Dominic Cummings was roundly beaten by Channel 4's (correct) actions. Hence the Government approaching Ofcomo officially complain: "We can do what we want to the voters, but how dare they respond themselves (in this case via Channel 4), in any way whatsoever ..."

I was reminded that many years ago when Have I Got News For You had invited Roy Hattersley to appear, but when politics interfered he refused and didn't turn up, his place on the panel was represented by a tub of lard. Last night's block of ice was much more mild than the lard, but our PM's refusal to turn up surely secures thousands of more votes, dare I say especially from the younger generation, against the Tories.

What a strange world we live in.

Walter Paul, Glasgow G42.

Read more: Michael Gove turned away from Channel 4 climate debate

AS I observed an empty chair

I saw a man who wasn't there

He wasn't there again, today

– I wish that man would go away!

Michael Gove might take his place

But few would wish to see his face

Or listen to his freakish voice

He's no-one's first (or second) choice.

"Avoid all questions" – that's the rule

Our Boris learned at Eton School

And since he follows this advice

– I'd rather watch a block of ice!

James Stevenson, Auchterarder.

THERE used to be a joke that suggested the way to tell if a politician was lying was to look and see if his or her lips were moving. Having watched the Andrew Neil interviews earlier this week I’ve come to the conclusion that we should now be listening out for the phrase “I don’t recognise those numbers” or indeed any phrase starting with “I don’t recognise ….” and judge the politicians accordingly.

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

WATCHING Mr Johnston senior on the BBC this morning (November 29) it was easy to see that evasion, not answering the question, and prevarication seem to be inherent in the Johnston genes.

He didn't seem to realise that Channel 4 wished to have the organ grinder and not the monkey on their show. Hence Michael Gove was no use to them.

George Smith, Clydebank.

FOR weeks now I have been dumfouttered, depressed and in a state of disbelief at the state of politics in England and by extension the UK. Thank goodness, therefore, for two articles in today's Herald (November 29). One by Catriona Stewart detailing the moral insolvency, sheer brutal hypocrisy and the conceited, hubristic and egotistical sense of his own worth displayed by Boris Johnson ("Even Boris Johnson acknowledges his own bumbling"). If Ms Stewart can see it and I can see it then surely most of the population, at least in Scotland, will or already have seen it.

Then Rebecca McQuillan eased my sense of despair by pointing to the gleaming light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed, as she says, the best hope for an independent Scotland is a Tory victory in England, which will ensure a Tory Westminster government ("A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for independence"). I would even be happy enough to see a handful of North-east Scotland constituencies voting Tory if it guarantees that outcome. A Boris Johnson Brexit government virtually guarantees an independent Scotland in the near future, so Tory voters of Aberdeen South and Banff and Buchan please take note, get out there and vote.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

THE SNP was never known for its reticence to call out opposition politicians and demand resignations of Westminster ministers. It now seems to be taking the opposite view with regard to the increasingly shocking revelations in the Scottish NHS ("Water safety warnings in week flagship hospital opened", The Herald, November 29). Nicola Sturgeon rather wants to keep this issue under wraps during the crucial election campaign but the state of Scotland's devolved NHS is a cause for concern for all of us.

Public inquiries take years, we need answers urgently, particularly since it seems this problem has been known about for some time. Ms Nicola Sturgeon and her team cannot dodge the obvious questions of who knew what and when. There is no place for political debates about independence, front and centre, whilst the very health of the nation is being overlooked.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.