A rare sight appeared at the weekend. Blink and you might have missed it, but fortunately, the cameras were there to confirm it was not fake news. Yes, Sir Keir Starmer was pictured smiling, and possibly even laughing.

With that set of local election results in England who could blame him? The cherry on top for the normally ultra-cautious Labour leader was the party’s surprise victory in the West Midlands mayoral election. Labour’s Richard Parker took the mayor’s job from Conservative candidate Andy Street by a majority of just 1,508 votes.

It was a real “Were you up for Portillo moment” though it happened on Saturday evening rather than in the wee small hours.

Keeping Street in place in the West Midlands, and Lord Ben Houchen in Tees Valley, were among thee key tests that Rishi Sunak had to pass to quell talk of a revolt within his party. Losing Street means the Prime Minister is in for another difficult week, his only comfort being that there is no obvious candidate to replace him.

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, was the lucky minister sent out to tour the Sunday shows with a dual message from Number 10: yes the results were disappointing, but the plan is to stick to the plan. Clear enough?

Not to Suella Braverman, who popped up on BBC1’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. The former home secretary appeared more furious than disappointed, saying it was a “disgrace” for the Tories to be trailing Starmer, a man with “the charisma of a peanut”.

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Yet she stopped short of saying Mr Sunak should go, saying a change of leader was not feasible before a general election. “There is no superman or superwoman who can do it.”

If Keir Starmer was scoring highly on the happiness index and Ms Braverman was bumping along the bottom, Scotland’s politicians were somewhere in the middle.

First along for BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show was John Swinney. Barring the last-minute appearance of a challenger, he will be back in the job of SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister this week.

If his relaxed manner is any guide, Mr Swinney has not had any sleepless nights since throwing his hat into the ring after Humza Yousaf’s resignation.

The caption did not state where Mr Swinney was speaking from but it was not the spot he usually uses at home. Instead of a chair against a relatively plain background, he was on a sofa, complete with cosy checked throw, with photos and books in the background. Was this the new, chilled, fireside John Swinney we saw before us? His version of Tony Blair's sofa government? 

Referring to Kate Forbes as “my colleague and friend”, he was positively chipper about the prospect of leading the party again. Not as chipper as Starmer with his election results, more “content” and ready to get going.

There was speculation at the weekend about the job he will offer Forbes, with Deputy First Minister, including a business/economy brief, mentioned in several papers. That would mean demoting or sacking the incumbent, Shona Robison. Would Mr Swinney really want to start a new term as leader with such a move?

Other reports suggested he would cut the number of ministers from the current 26, and that a leaner cabinet would be focussed on a few key areas that matter most to the public. Whether this slimmer administration has a place for a minister for independence is another wait-and-see.

Mr Swinney expanded on what made him go for the leadership having stepped back from the front line when Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister. What was different now, Geissler asked.

Mr Swinney said he was mindful that he had asked a lot of his family over the years. “You know my personal circumstances, my wife has multiple sclerosis, I’m very heavily involved in supporting her as I should be, and want to be, as her husband.

“If I had stood last year I would have been going into office - and I probably would have won last year - pretty tired and pretty mentally and physically drained by 16 years in office. I’ve had a year out of frontline politics.

“I am physically and mentally rested, and my family are confident that we can manage our way through this if I become First Minister. “ Opposition parties lost no time last week in calling Swinney “yesterday’s man”, a line the Conservative MP Andrew Bowie returned to in his interview.

“He was last leader of the SNP when Bill Clinton was prime minister (sic), Bob the Builder was number one and I was 12-years-old,” said Mr Bowie.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Mr Swinney’s job would be managing the decline of the SNP, while Scottish Labour were in “rebuilding mode”.

The exchanges were a hint that Scottish politics would remain just as lively with Swinney as First Minister. Perhaps not the right time, then, for the BBC to cut the number of hours of news it is required to broadcast in peak time on the BBC Scotland channel.

The question arises now that media regulator Ofcom has formally asked viewers for their responses to the plans set out earlier this year.

Ofcom said the plan was to replace The Nine and The Seven with a 30-minute news programme to be shown at 7pm. At the same time, Reporting Scotland would be extended from 30 minutes to an hour “multiple times” a year, Debate Night expanded, and a new podcast produced. There is no suggestion that The Sunday Show would be affected by the changes.

In its response, Ofcom noted that The Nine had lost viewers every year since 2020.

It also mentioned that the new news programme, in contrast to The Nine’s focus on covering international, UK and national stories from a Scottish perspective, would aim to “be more local and get around Scotland more”.

Ofcom’s provisional view is that it will approve the BBC’s request to cut the number of hours of peak time news required on the BBC Scotland channel. It is now seeking responses from “interested or affected parties”.

For more information visit ofcom.org.uk