System appears to have been bought and implemented without competitive bidding – from firm on Evans’s ‘home patch’ run by supporter of prominent Evans fan
After the recent scandals of the take-over of Streatham CLP’s Annual General Meeting and the apparent early leak of results to a ‘pro-Keir’ organising group – and similar issues in Bristol – SKWAWKBOX can exclusively reveal problems with Labour’s purchase and implementation of its ‘Anonyvoter’ on-line voting system that appear to put the party on the same side as the Tories’ disgraced Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s contract awards.
The software, which has been much criticised by constituency party (CLP) secretaries, appears to require multiple attempts to get ballots to members and, according to members in Bristol, was reported by their regional office to have a cap on the number of voters it can handle. These problems have forced some CLPs to resort to after-meeting voting because of the extra time it takes to get ballots out and votes cast. The system was introduced in September 2020, without much explanation as to why the previous voting platform had been replaced.
Members of Labour’s National Executive Committee say that they had almost no information about the decision to switch to the Anonyvoter system – and it appears that no tender process was used to acquire the package to control the exercise of Labour’s 500,000 members’ their democratic rights. Sources inside the party say no bidding process was undertaken.
Anonyvoter is provided by Henson IT Solutions Ltd. Only two directors are cited on Companies House: Madeline and Mark Henson, who Labour members in Croydon say are two well known right-wingers in the borough. Maddie Henson is a Labour councillor and Croydon’s ceremonial mayor.
Labour’s acting general secretary David Evans and his business have long been based in Croydon, where Henson is a councillor and known associate of discredited former Croydon council Leader Tony Newman, who last year publicly supported ‘old mate’ Evans for the general secretary position:
Local newspaper Inside Croydon wrote that Maddie Henson was one of a number of Labour Councillors not usually seen in ordinary CLP meetings, who turned up alongside Newman to vote down a motion of no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans. The paper says of Evans’s links with Croydon Council:
After helping Tony Blair win two General Elections, in the early years of this century Evans established a consultancy in Croydon… which from 2014, after Labour won control of Croydon Town Hall, received contracts from the council and the council-owned house-builders, Brick by Brick, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Earlier this month, according to IC, Maddie Henson was one of a number of councillors and other supporters of Tony Newman to ‘stage a takeover’ of a Croydon Labour meeting and vote in a ‘Newman-friendly’ right-wing slate of candidates to run the CLP.
SKWAWKBOX contacted Henson IT Solutions for comment on how the contract was awarded by Labour to use its system and whether there was any competitive bidding process. Maddie Henson told SKWAWKBOX that the process was Labour’s business and was the party’s ‘normal procurement’, but then confirmed that there had been no competitive tender process:
We had conversations, we proposed a contract and they accepted it, that’s how it works.
The Tories have recently been judged to have acted unlawfully in awarding contracts to their supporters and donors. SKWAWKBOX contacted the Labour party yesterday to ask for comment on the award of Anonyvoter without a tender or other competitive process, but the party had not provided a response by the time of publication and was unwilling to commit to a timescale for doing so.
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