Andrew v Andrew
Congratulations Prince William and Kate Middleton - and your timing is appreciated.
Just as the pre-draft budget waters were closing around my head and any chance of blogging today disappearing fast, the Royal engagement comes along and knocks me off the end of umpteen running orders. What we learn from this is that a royal engagement beats pre-budget predictions any day.
Let's avoid the guesstimates then and ask a specific question: what's going on in Swansea? More specifically, Swansea Council.
The answer is that it has been looking ahead, listening to warnings about the need to work more efficiently, do more with less in these cash-strapped times and has started looking around to find out whether there's anyone out there who could run its adult social services more efficiently than it can.
To be clear it's decided nothing. The wording of this "notice" - not a tender say Swansea - might suggest it's decided quite a lot but councillors are clear that it was published in the form it was to satisfy legal requirements. What it really, really wants is for a social enterprise to step into the breach and take over the running of its adult social services.
It doesn't say so clearly - or even subtly - they argue, because again, there are ways of doing these things. They've done what the rules and regulations say you should. What they haven't done is deny that they have already heard from over 20 companies interested in the £20m a year contract and that those companies are private, not social, enterprises.
If you're Labour's Andrew Davies - never a man who'd be caught wearing a T-shirt saying I Heart Swansea Council under his suit - what you see is "the mass privatisation of social services". This is a Liberal Democrat council acting undemocratically by opening the door to private companies to run vital services for the most vulnerable clients it has, with no regard for whether the people of Swansea think that's a good idea.
If you're the Conservatives' Andrew R.T Davies - never a man you'd mix up with the other Andrew Davies - what you see is a council doing what the Labour-led coalition government has told it to do. It's looked ahead, seen what's coming and is trying to find out how it can deliver savings without affecting frontline services. What he sees is a "knee-jerk response" from the local Labour member because Swansea is run by the Liberal Democrats. What he sees is someone "who in one breath lambasts the Assembly Government (and its civil servants) for not focussing on outcomes but then lands like a ton of bricks on a local authority who's doing just that because it's of a different colour".
What do the twenty private companies see, the ones who saw the notice Swansea posted just four days ago and who can barely have drawn breath before expressing an interest? From the speed and number of applications to hit Mr Griffiths' desk, you get the impression they must have seen a sign saying "Wales - open to (your sort of) business after all."
What happens next?
I suppose, put simply, that this happens: a council that has put itself 'out there' must now decide whether it's going to stay 'out there,' knowing that it's being watched very closely, not just by the Assembly Government but by twenty one other nervous local authorities.