And it suited the incumbent labour government - they were pushing for ID cards and a national DNA database. Fear of child abduction can be very persuasive when trying to convince the public to have their babies microchipped. Almost any Law goes if someone shouts 'Think of the Children!'. It is all very 'Big Brother', but BB is already here - we have CCTV everywhere, most of our personal and private information is readily available to anyone determined to get their hands on it.
The sweet little face of Madeleine has been used to stir up that spirit of hatred and rage in the watching world toward paedophiles, or more accurately towards those mythical bogeymen every generation uses to frighten their kids into shutting up and doing what they are told. Those same mythical bogeymen are now being used to frighten all of us by those who offer us protection. The case of Madeleine proved these creatures do exist and the call to root them out couldn't have been more popular.
You can kind of see how easy it is rustle up an angry mob when an attractive child is involved. It is a classic narrative device, beautiful child stolen by monster, villagers hand round pitchforks and storm the 'castle'. For some reason, little blonde princesses are always held captive in plush surroundings rather than dingy hovels, except in D.W. Griffiths' Birth of Nation, but the premise is still much the same. Putting the villain in a Castle makes him one of the hated rich, making him black makes it racist.
Most of us are able to control our rage against these monsters, we are able to keep it in perspective and allow justice to take its' course. But for many, as we have seen with the McCann case, that sense of anger and need for retribution has never gone away. That is, it remains as intense as it was 9 years ago and maybe even increased by the fact that all these years later no-one has ever been charged.
Many antis, like myself, have become attached to this case because we have a heightened sense of injustice. It simply isn't possible for us to forget it and walk away. The words of Edmund Burke ring in our ears. If the only person punished for the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is the detective who searched for her, then justice as we know it, no longer exists.
For most of us, hopefully, the rage has subsided and turned into a quest not only for justice but for enlightenment. We want to understand, we don't want to build bonfires in the village square. We want justice by those who, we pray, know what they are doing. In the cold light of day, we don't really want to rip monsters limb from limb, because that would make us monsters too. Right now, I wouldn't want to be Kate and Gerry for all the tea in China. Having been indoctrinated with Catholic guilt as a child, I remember the torture of examining my conscious every night, and the fear of knowing for certain that 'I'd be in for it' the next day. Fear of being found out is crippling. In retrospect, I should have titled my earlier memoir, 'Catholicism made me a manic depressive loon'
But back to that perfect Stepford family and the cover up. The well groomed, articulate professionals, Drs. Gerry and Kate McCann, were the epitome of the aspiring British middle classes. Great ambassadors for the UK. Note, Karen Matthews didn't have convoys of government officials to speak for her or protect her from the press.
A spin doctor could not have created a more perfect family. The hard working, church going couple have no flaws. No drink, drugs, or colourful pasts, they had planned and followed their lives and careers to the letter. All the boxes were ticked, they couldn't possibly be guilty. For Gordon, they became representative of his dream of the ideal British family with Methodist values. Like himself they had climbed the social ladder through diligence and determination. They were PLU (People Like Us) and that, in a nutshell was their appeal to journalists like Lorraine Kelly, Tony Parons, Piers Morgan etc. They really like their own kind, and because they identify with the McCanns, their first thought is 'it could have been me'. The McCann case illustrates how little Lorraine Kelly thinks of her audience, she immediately fell in with the McCanns' mantra - people only suspect them because they are jealous of what they have achieved. She just cannot see beyond her own blind prejudice, perhaps she thinks all her viewers are jealous of her too.
This case reeks of class division. I don't know of any other parents caught in traumatic circumstances receiving direct telephone calls, from not one, but two, Prime Ministers. I find it hard to believe that the government support continued for as long as it did. I think however, the 'dodgy' support stopped around June/July 2007 when Clarence was unable to get Kate and Gerry a meeting with Gordon Brown or any other high level minister. From then on, they had to rent their own villa but they still had Clarence (in his recent lecture he said he was out there for 3 months). I don't know if he was still being paid by the Home Office at that time, but if he was, then questions need to be asked.
Poor little Madeleine has been a big earner for all those who took up her cause. Spin doctors, police agencies, charities and untold lawyers have all profited since the off. Then of course we have the Media. The tabloids have been using Madeleine's name ruthlessly in order to increase sales. Sensational McCann stories always shift copy. Maybe not quite in the same way as they did in 2007, but there is another big pay day on the way.
The 'powers that be' need the population to be living in fear. The case of Madeleine has been ruthlessly exploited to exacerbate the terror of child predators in our midst. We are given inflated figures of the number of children going missing, enough to fill several schools each year, but without the follow up that the majority are found very quickly and in 'innocent' circumstances. The pretty, innocent little Madeleine could have been any of our kids - at that stage when they are cute, vulnerable and in most need of our protection. And she was stolen from her bed! Not from dysfunctional, drink and drug addled parents who put her at risk, but from respectable, responsible doctors! If it could happen to people like Kate and Gerry, it could happen to anyone. That message alone is worth its weight in gold.
If I hate Kate and Gerry, and it's hard not to, I hate the fact that they have robbed so many kids of the joys of 'playing out'. So many parents think that their children are not safe anywhere, they dare not let them out of their sight. This generation are being raised within the safe confines of their own homes and approved leisure activities, or chaperoned everywhere by a responsible adult. They will never know the freedom of becoming besties with a random kid in the park just because you share a love of hanging upside down on the climbing frame. This fear of predators has imprisoned our kids, far too many are being raised to be timid, fearful and fat! They don't grow up streetwise, because they have never been out on the streets. They are being led by the hand past that essential development milestone by over protective parents covering their eyes. The best protection we can give our children is to educate them! Beginning with Part I, Common Sense.
For the first time in history EVERYONE has access to information. It is unprecedented and the speed with which it has arrived has made it uncontrollable for anyone. It is, as Grace Dent pointed out 'lawless'. Gone are the days when awkward problems could disappear with a dodgy handshake and a gentleman's agreement. All those ancient libel and slander laws might just as well be moved to the mediaeval section of the Natural History Museum for all the relevance they have now.
This is an iconic moment in history and it's nothing to fear! Imagine explaining it to your mums, dads and grandparents? And to those of us who remember manual typewriters! lol. It is a new renaissance, a move from the dark to the light ages. The WWW is bringing about the biggest shake up and threat to the 'Establishment' and the Ruling Classes, that the world has ever seen. Society works by keeping everyone in their place and social media is a leveller, literally anyone can shout their case in 140 characters, and it can be read by the highest and the lowest in the land. People like 'lawless internet' (sic) Grace Dent want to keep it for the elite, and those who agree to play nicely. Jim Gamble wants trolls (how do you define troll?) in the dock in front of a Magistrate. The McCanns want the press gagged and financial compensation for every time they are dissed.
It is the duty of all of us to hang onto this freedom for as long as we can. Happily, the social media moguls are humanitarians and philanthropists, and there are too many hackers who can stay one step ahead. The authorities would like to make them Public Enemy No. 1, but happily it has never worked. 'Do Not Share' is almost a guaranteed 1000 retweets.
The internet has given the General Public access to information. Something we have never seen before, there is no empiric evidence for what happens when the dialectic shifts so dramatically. The Madeleine case demonstrated that news could not be contained by borders and censorship. The public have seen for themselves, via our kind friends in Portugal, that the details they were reading in the British newspapers did not correspondent with the details available in Portugal. The Madeleine case, more than any, may have boosted the sales of tabloids but they have shown the general public that their newspapers lie to them and it will be a major contributor in their eventual extinction. We can now read what we want, where we want.
The balance of power has shifted. As the riots in the Middle East and indeed here in the UK demonstrated, mobs can be gathered in an instant. And with today's Brexit result, we are likely to see many more. Who remembers the poll tax?
The internet has changed everything. Imagine for a moment if a ruling government or indeed a sinister Doctor Evil, had access to a database of the entire population's private and confidential details? Finances, health and criminal records, even private exchanges of messages, texts, emails between family and friends? Think of the potential for corruption and the potential for blackmail. Effectively, anyone considered subversive (and who is to judge what is subversive?) could be arrested on any trumped up charge. Receiving a picture of grandchildren on the beach for example, could be construed as 'exchanging child porn'. (yuck, yuck, yuck, I know, but that's where we could be heading).
Jim Gamble as we know wants a task force to police the internet. Ostensibly to track down paedophiles, but depending on the powers he might be given, he could pry into anyone's internet history. He just has to convince us there is a need for it. Happily the huge social media moguls of Facebook, Twitter, Google etc, told him to sling his hook, but his campaign continues. Mr. Gamble remains a leading light in the politics of those who want to police (censor) the internet, people They rely on the argument that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, but it doesn't matter if you have anything to hide or not, you and future generations should have the right to the freedom of privacy.
The public emotion that is aroused by the tragic story of Madeleine has been exploited by, well, almost everyone. The innocence stolen is a reminder of the mythical dangers that exist all around us and our 'need' for government protection. When police agencies pitch for higher funding, they have to produce evidence that a threat exists. That's what happens when you run a public service under capitalist guidelines. The more popular the cause the more money ploughed into it. As Kate said at the beginning, she had no idea of how vast the problem of child abduction was, and she has been trying to convince the rest of us ever since. The US missing children's Centre is a multi-million dollar corporation, and the 'Madeleine Fund' could have been too, if it hadn't been for that darn detective.
The world's response to Madeleine's disappearance was a phenomenon we have never seen before. Millions had access to instant paypal buttons, collection buckets and the assistance of major Banks to express their outrage with cash donations. The Madeleine's Fund became the fastest growing money spinner the world had ever seen because all those who knew how to exploit a major disaster were first on the scene. It became a phenomenon via the internet, but the internet has eaten it up. Where they succeeded in the legal claims against the tabloids, they had no chance against the World Wide Web, thinking they did is perhaps another example of the megalomania that lies at the root of this case
The case of missing Madeleine McCann, more than any other, has given substance to those who claim the internet and Freedom of information is a dangerous thing. Firstly, by bending over backwards to persuade us that internet was somehow involved this 3 year old's disappearance. The computers of Robert Murat, and who knows how many others, were seized within days. Finding a group of weirdos exchanging pictures would have been a major coup for an organisation such as CEOP. Despite the fact there has never been any evidence of an internet connection or a paedophile ring in PDL in 9 years, the rumours still persist, and bizarrely, they are mostly promoted by the antis!
Ps. I'm still too traumatised to comment on yesterday's Brexit result, and ashamed to be British. In WWI, my great, great grandmother from Dundee, had 6 sons on the Western Front, only two of them came home, for the others, she got plaques. Dundee lost an entire generation of young men. Men who fought for freedom alongside their European friends and allies. Now we are the little Englanders who took our ball back so we could play on our own, not having to share with anyone else.