Friday, 4 November 2016
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
At some point the official investigation into Madeleine's disappearance will have to close. That may be way off in the future when the media and the public have completely lost interest in the case, or on a good day for burying bad news. That's not to say it will vanish completely - it is a simmering pot that still has the potential to demand a public inquiry at any time. The reality is however, the Madeleine case is likely to be one of many injustices of past governments that will never be investigated. In the whole scheme of things, this particular spider's web of corruption doesn't compare to Orgreave, Hillsborough or the mythical weapons of mass destruction that took us into war.
In 2007, the incumbent Labour government were warming us up to the idea of ID cards, a central DNA data bank and the microchipping of newborns. They were also looking for ways in which to access our private and confidential details legally and with our full approval. Anyone protesting obviously having something to hide.
The internet has grown into an out of control monster, the flow of information is shifting the power of the elite into the hands of the masses. News cannot be contained, distorted or manipulated by media moguls conspiring with politicians, everyone now has direct access to the source. The bare faced lies of tabloid front pages are instantly rebutted and ridiculed on social media. Politicians are no longer distant and aloof like the Queen, they are squabbling on twitter using the vernacular of a bar room brawl. And worse, the dishonesty we once suspected has been confirmed by the Iraq war and cases like Madeleine's
The establishment are losing control, they are no longer able to put the lid on anything. While they may have brilliant computer geeks looking for ways in which to snoop on the public and contain information, they are probably outnumbered, and always outclassed by genius altruistic hackers, who are leaps and bounds ahead of them. But it is not so much the technology that is holding them back, it's the ethics. The Government need a legitimate, vote winning, reason to introduce policing on the internet. And the quickest route to introducing draconian new laws, is to present us with a clear and present danger.
The disappearance of Madeleine was almost tailor made to launch a new hidden enemy for the public to fear. And the new enemy were paedophiles, lurking on every corner and hidden behind every tree, when not grooming kids on the internet. Who knew? The problem every government has, is finding reasons to pry on the general public. Terrorism gives them a certain amount of access, but it is not as all encompassing as 'think of the children', When there is a threat to our children, even rational people become emotive and start surrendering their freedoms.
Madeleine became the poster child for a movement to spread fear among the population. If the well cared for, middle class child of responsible parents could be stolen in the night, it could happen to anyone! Every parents' worst possible nightmare suddenly became a reality. Very few commentators pointed out that the chances of our children being abducted were significantly less than our chances of winning the lottery but we were persuaded EVERY child was at risk. And even less pointed out that the chances of toddlers left alone in a holiday apartment having an accident, were through the roof.
Such is life, missing children have become big business, police need more resources, charities need more cash. The appealing, cherubic face of Madeleine and the media savvy of her articulate parents captured the public's interest (and cash) like no other. I expect people will argue for years to come as to who was using who in the back scratching arrangements between the McCanns, the Labour Government and the media. All were benefiting, the McCanns were spreading the abduction story, the Government were getting the go ahead to clamp down on the internet and newspapers with Madeleine stories were flying off the shelf
Arguably, the newspapers have already been punished, or at least they are being punished now as the public seek out more honest sources and opinions. The sheer volume of live news available now, has, to put it bluntly, made lying tabloids redundant.
However, almost 10 years have passed since Madeleine disappeared and New Labour's dream of getting us all labelled, microchipped and stored in a central data base is but a distant memory. The new cyber enemy are the trolls, the abusers and those who use the internet to tell their local MP they are shit. People throughout the UK (MPs especially) are fainting in shock at getting an ear full of what the electorate really think of them. One, at least, has built a panic room.
Most of the last decade's fears have probably already happened, and without much of a whimper it must be said. That is, hiding from the authorities or trying to protect our privacy now would be like spitting in the wind. We are all leaving a cyber trail every time we log on and worrying about it is a fast track route to paranoia. The problem with freedom of speech and information is that it also applies to ourselves.
But back to the case of Madeleine. It is possible that those responsible for Madeleine's disappearance will never face trial. Not because of some convoluted conspiracy theory that involves, freemasons, clones, paedophile rings or swingers, but the very simple (vexing) lack of that one vital piece of evidence that would bring about a prosecution. Ie, the same reason hundreds, if not thousands, of cases the world over go 'unsolved'.
I don't however, think the parents will ever get off scot free. They have spent nearly 10 years in the civil courts and on the breakfast sofas fighting to 'restore' their reputations and the popularity they once had. Yet it has all been to no avail, if anything it has turned the public against them and the millions have all gone. Their greatest desire, an official Scotland Yard declaration of their innocence, remains out of their reach and without it, their plans to continue the search are worthless. They have got past one police force not looking for a live child, but even spinmeister Clarence would struggle to get past two.
Some might say it is enough that those involved must live forever more with the constant thumping of that tell tale heart. And the fear that their chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. They are all shackled to each other whether they like it or not, that's the way pacts work. Gerry and Kate are shackled to the goody two shoes monsters they created with his blog and her book. Doomed to looking miserable and walking hand in hand forever more they can never have so much as a cross word, let alone get drunk and throw crockery at each other.
When you put the case of Madeleine McCann into perspective, and many of us haven't for a very long time, there are bigger and more immediate threats to our society that affect thousands of lives. I am sure many will continue to follow the Madeleine case out of interest, myself included, and some will continue to fight for justice by exposing the lies on twitter. I have no doubt however, that there are genuine detectives, just like Goncalo Amaral and Steve Thomas in the Jonbenet case, who will never give up, no matter how long it takes.