In fact, I made the decision fairly soon after I removed them that they would not be returning. This was after a few people made some easy suggestions on how I could test my theories.
There were six comments deleted (along with my responses which made no sense on their own) which purported to come from two people. Both were from what I would call ‘disposable’ addresses, in other words webmail accounts that can be set up for free using any name. And all the comments came from the same place, which first aroused my suspicion that it they might be the same person. However, it was that the place in question was a charity that fundraises using chugging, while the commenters said they had no direct interest, that made me decide they would be permanently deleted.
While I’m prepared to accept that two individuals from the same charity independently decided to comment on my blog in defence of chugging I do think they should have stated their involvement with chugging rather than claiming to be “just an interested observer.”
After I suspended the comments one of the accounts was used to accuse me of censorship. Well, it is my blog and it’s up to me what goes on here, but even so there are a number of people who have commented to disagree with me and those comments have been allowed to stay – indeed, there are a number from the PFRA on this very subject and several on my original chugging post whose comments express their dislike of my position (and indeed me). With the exception of spam these are the very first comments I have deleted and I think I have every justification in that course of action.
Clearly anyone who works for a charity that is, at least in part, reliant on chugging will have an interest in defending chugging. We all have interests and prejudices – but we should be open about them. To my mind it’s slightly dishonest to pretend you are an impartial outsider since this adds more credibility to your argument, pretty much whatever the subject. It was because of this, rather than censorship or the fact they were getting a little offensive, that I decided not to reinstate the comments.
However, in the interests of openness I will briefly outline the points made. All I would ask is that you read them aware that they originate from staff at a charity that uses chugging:
- I was shifty in the interview on the Today programme
- The PFRA have been entirely honest and straightforward about the issue
- I am only feigning concern about chugging as a publicity stunt
- Anyone who opposes chugging prevents essential help getting to the world’s most needy
- The campaign is solely to further my political career
- People dislike chuggers because it reminds them of their shared guilt for colonial exploitation and slavery
It was partly because of this series of comments that I stopped blogging about the issue. However, we are continuing to monitor the situation in Wandsworth and are trying to seek a solution. We formally complained to one of the charities in September, copying the complaint to the PFRA, Institute of Fundraising and Fundraising Standards Board, but to date I have had no response from any of them, possibly because of the postal strike.
I’m happy with people of any viewpoint having their say, and would encourage anyone to comment. I do not require any details from you, and while your first comment is moderated (that is, I will read it before it is published) after that any comments are posted immediately. To my mind a blog is not a blog without comments, and those comments can – and should – include debate. If you ever read anything on here that you want to say something about, whether you agree or disagree, please be my guest and say what you want. All I ask is that you are honest and straightforward.