Is that a flying pig I see?

IF, as Harold Wilson said, a week is indeed a long time in politics, I should perhaps apologise for harking back here to an earlier age.

Aidan Semmens

IF, as Harold Wilson said, a week is indeed a long time in politics, I should perhaps apologise for harking back here to an earlier age.

But the fallout from last week's election results will continue to have effects - some maybe unforeseen - on the British political map long after the paper in your hands has been recycled.

We know that national issues and personalities are what sway people's voting patterns even in local elections. Unpopular decisions in Westminster can unseat good councillors and topple good councils quite irrelevantly.

It's unfair, but it's a fact of life. So the May Day massacre of Labour town halls is rightly seen as a condemnation of Gordon Brown's government.

As if there was anything they could do about his shambolic mishandling of national tax plans or his alleged “dithering”.

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(Actually his resistance to rushing headlong into bad decisions, as his predecessor so often did, could be seen as Brown's greatest strength. Not “dithering” but sensibly taking his time to make wise choices. Of course, that would be easier to argue if his eventual decisions were wiser.)

As the map of local government turned bluer last week, I could feel the air turning blue too as belaboured local politicians cursed their national counterparts.

But it was not Labour's loss of control in Wolverhampton, Hartlepool or Reading that caused me pain. It was London becoming the turkey that voted for Christmas.

It may also have been the week Labour began to lose its grip on power nationally - but I can't really bring myself to get too excited about one centrist party of personal and corporate aggrandisement losing out to another one.

If in the long run it means the rebirth of the Labour Party I was once a member of from the ashes of the parody that took over the name, it might even turn out to be a good thing. But I won't be holding my breath.

If historical precedent is anything to go by, David Cameron can start preparing for power now.

So it's about time he started coming up with some real policies beyond being a jolly good bloke.

Last week's Tory gains - colossal as they were in terms of vote share - said nothing about belief in Cameron's party, but everything about loss of belief in Brown's.

It's ironic that after waiting so many years, not always patiently, for his turn at the tiller, Brown should now be letting it slip from his hands so easily. I certainly can't see him turning the boat away from the rocks from here, can you? And of course it's not all his fault - far from it. When ministers talk about international winds of change beyond their control, it's the truth.

There's precious little any British government can do about economic tidal waves created by events in America or China.

Not enough they can do about the global warming that may bring literal tidal waves and far greater economic chaos in the years ahead.

More trivially, Brown may also be suffering from simple voter boredom with Labour rule.

With the crucial exception of its support for nuclear power, which confirmed an existing bad policy, I think Brown's government has been a big improvement on Tony Blair's.

Not that that's saying much.

Will Cameron's be better than either? Only if you believe Pink Floyd's escaped blimp was in fact a flying pig…

THE peacock's tail is only the most obvious example of a simple fact of evolution.

What's it for? Nothing really - it's just that peahens fancy them. And they don't actually (quite) impede the peacock's movement enough to be a serious risk to its survival.

It may be only a slight simplification to say that the ability to play football, paint good pictures or write scintillating newspaper columns is a human equivalent of the peacock's tail.

They're all at root designed to impress the opposite sex and so increase one's chances of successful reproduction.

So the findings of a new American study are hardly surprising - that the most fertile women have the sexiest voices.

The question is what evolutionary advantage there can possibly be in a bad case of laryngitis.

IT wasn't what you might expect from the head of Scotland Yard's Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office, but DCI Mike Neville has finally looked into his CCTV screen and seen the blindingly obvious.

“Billions of pounds have been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images. It's been an utter fiasco,” he said.

Well, that's one long overdue admission. And here's another: Some police officers do not want to look through CCTV images “because it's hard work”.

Not to mention, I should think, mind-numbingly boring. And, in the vast majority of cases, utterly pointless.

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