AT The Herald, we are proud to provide an unrivalled forum for public discourse. We publish commentators from all colours of the political spectrum. We do not seek to censor them unduly, and every day we make it clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of this newspaper.

Their opinions are often propounded robustly. But ought there to be a limit on how those views are expressed? Where do you draw the line between powerful invective and unacceptable abuse?

The question was raised this week on our Letters Pages. Lord George Robertson wrote: “Fidelma Cook’s article [last Saturday] crossed a red line of decency and fair comment. To label the UK Home Secretary, who happens to be of Asian background, ‘like a blackshirted stormtrooper’ is to plumb depths of invective which should never have escaped your sub-editor’s knife. I did not vote for the First Minister’s party in the recent Scottish election … in spite of that, her party is the Scottish Government and I do not believe that anyone should ever, ever stoop to likening her or her ministers to Nazi thugs.”

He is, in my view, correct. It is beyond the pale to associate our politicians with the outrages of Nazism, no matter how much you may loathe their actions. Indeed, the aforementioned “sub-editor’s knife” has been brought to bear on several occasions when readers have attempted to tar the SNP with that brush.

But how about this one? Reader Alasdair Galloway fired back with his own denunciation of Priti Patel, concluding with “if ‘black-shirted stormtrooper’ is too strong, how about “utter two-faced, selfish hypocrite”?

Leaving aside the matter of tautology, that is fine. You may or may not agree with the comment, but the level of insult is just about within acceptable limits.

So, definitely no Hitler allusions. But is Kim Jong-il acceptable? I have seen Nicola Surgeon described as the Dear Leader in readers’ letters; on balance, I think the argument in favour of satire wins the day here.

It should be emphasised that we are talking about our political masters here, who have thick skins (if they don’t, they’re in the wrong trade). The jibes we let through about them would be unacceptable if applied to members of the general public. Perhaps you think that’s wrong?

Mind you, some insults can be entertaining while still being effective. This week reader Malcolm Allan reminded us that “on hearing that Clement Attlee had been described as ‘a very modest man’ Winston Churchill is said to have responded that ‘Mr Attlee has much to be modest about’.” He then flashed the rapier: “As Boris Johnson is claimed to closely guard his privacy about family matters, it could be said that ‘he has much to be private about’.”