In the absence of any tremendously exciting procurement news, this first instalment of a regular comment service is forced to take the most surprising story of the week as a starting point. What might be the implications for the police and justice technology industry of Ashcroft’s revelations?

Cameron has weathered greater reputational storms, and the likelihood is that this one will blow over too. Conservative backbenchers, though, will surely be considering the implications for the party leadership succession contest, the timings of which are down to them as much as to Cameron, while Labour’s determined march into the political wilderness makes the stakes all the higher.

For those with a reasonable chance of becoming leader, their personal standing with the electorate and the Tory selectorate is a paramount concern. Each contender will be acutely aware of shifts in the perception of their rivals and the incumbent. Theresa May, already the favourite after Osborne and Johnson, can only benefit from public mockery at the trappings of privilege shared by chancellor, mayor and prime minister.

The big decisions, such as the police settlement in November’s spending review, and the detail of a new RIPA bill, are unlikely to be affected too much by shifting dynamics of rivalry. But minor policy decisions can have substantial impacts on technology choices. IT firms and police CIOs making long-term bets should consider how tussles between May’s team and Osborne’s (including Matt Hancock, of course) might play out. A power play between mayor and home secretary over water cannon purchases is bad enough; it would be worse if the shared services and collaboration agenda falls victim to petty politics.

Where could fault lines emerge? The current Home Office consultation on collaboration between emergency services proposes shared governance for police and fire, under PCC control. This fits how services are joining up locally. Cheshire Fire Authority will discuss plans tomorrow to sell off its Winsford HQ and move a hundred staff into the nearby police facility to share back office systems. Meanwhile, North Wales FRS has just come out with a tender for command and control kit to replace the Capita Vision 3 system, with a key requirement being to integrate into the North Wales Police communications control platform. As it stands, May and DCLG’s Clark (a former Treasury minister) seem to be working together just as well as their counterparts on the ground.

If Whitehall accelerates this collaboration, though, there will be tough questions about where the savings that accrue are recognised, and who funds the associated investment. And this won’t be the only issue where a partisan Treasury might need to referee between Home Office and DCLG. May told the Police Federation immediately after the election that she intended to reduce the extent to which policing covers up for the inadequacies of mental health provision, child protection and other local services. If she were to succeed in this aim, policing resources could certainly be better focused on reducing crime. But significant goodwill and cooperation would be needed from local authorities, mental health trusts and their representatives in Whitehall if national solutions to these issues are to be found. That’s less likely when the top team is jockeying for position.

Cabinet ministers have learned from Andrew Lansley’s fall that dramatic structural reforms can have a heavy political cost. Theresa May has been well placed to observe how any police failing north of the border can be blamed on the formation of Police Scotland, and she’s been canny enough to resist calls for wholesale restructuring of English policing. This leaves two paths for reform available to her: unobtrusive reorganisations of policing functions and procurement, and rebrokered responsibilities between different agencies at a local level. In both of these, local relationships and facts on the ground have always counted for rather more than Home Office mandates. Should the leadership succession contest get messier, and departmental accord less likely, central initiatives will be even slower to take off. Police, local authority and healthcare leaders will broker their own unique deals where they can; CIOs and the technology industry shouldn’t look for templated solutions.  IT that enables the changes that work best locally is most likely to succeed. No wonder that IT shops have been so excited by the Staffordshire Police IT transformation opportunity, which treats local collaboration as the top priority.

And on a separate note, a rather different PigGate consideration for industry folk might be the potential impact on Civil Service World. The dominant shareholder of that splendid and free-to-air source of insider interviews and analysis is one Michael Ashcroft. There are all sorts of terrifying pitfalls in B2B media, but one has to feel for fellow commentators saddled with a proprietor who suddenly turns rogue and fires a barrage of scandalmongery at the leader of the institutions they cover.