I've been deleting quite a few comments lately. But one comment, from September 2009, I didn't either delete or publish; I just saved it. Now, I think, it's time for it to see the light of day.I set up a website in 2008. After a year or so I suddenly found that a pusillanimous web host had bowed to A4e's claim that it was "defamatory" and closed it. I had no opportunity to find out exactly what was supposed to be defamatory, let alone remove it. All I could do was retrieve as much material as possible and set up again.
In September 2009 New Deal was turning into Flexible New Deal, and A4e had embarked on a marketing exercise, a road show entitled "Know Hope". A friend in Hull saw it, and I published a short piece on 24 September. That same night a comment came through, which I now publish in full:
"This site never fails to amaze with any attempt to try and badmouth the work A4e is doing in any capacity. The fact is that A4e have campaigned for a new way of working after listening to clients who did not like the system under New Deal. Flexible New Deal is an entirely new way of working where people are given a personal career coach and a structured plan over twelve months where A4e have the time and resources to assess exactly what their needs are. This has taken years of research and work with the government with the aim on improving services to help the hardest to reach. The Know Hope Campaign is nationwide and the reason for A4e logos and branding not taking centre stage is that the emphasis is mainly on the client - Their Journey and getting them back into Sustainable Employment. The majority of people in Hull were really enthusiastic about the changes and the new way of working. A4e are taking feedback on board and trying to make a difference. No company is perfect but A4e staff are all passionate about getting people back into sustainable employment and trying to make a difference. A4e have tried to communicate with the person who leads this negative site to try and establish exactly what happened to make them launch this incessant tirade against the company. We help so many people every day and there are so many positive stories that would do so much more good instead of this constant stream of negativity and accusation. A4e want to aspire to inspire and empower people to leave benefits and improve their own lives. This is not corporate spiel but actually how everyone feels in the organisation and strives to make a difference in an economic climate that is hard to maintain a positive outlook in. We want people to Know that there is Hope for them. It does not matter if you have barriers to employment - under Flexible New Deal we are here to make a difference. No doubt this will be interpreted in a different way if it is even posted. But suffice to say A4e are sick of trying to find out exactly what your issue is with us. We have tried communicating and talking sense to no avail. We genuinely want to help people - can you not find it in your heart to give us a break and see the good we can do?"
I was gobsmacked by the sheer mendacity of this. They had never "tried to communicate", unless getting a website closed was communication. They had never tried to find out anything. How could they? So what was the point of this comment? Did they really expect me to publish it? Probably not, but maybe they hoped it would slip through. And who were "they", anyway?
Ah well, time moves on.