I have no doubt that the case of missing Madeleine McCann will someday become the stuff of multiple academic textbooks for students of marketing, journalism, media, politics and purveyors of snakeoil. Indeed, at one time, Clarence Mitchell, proudly boasted his success, as too did the 'make the lie become the truth' 'Crisis' management companies who swiftly jumped onboard.
It will be hard now for any of them to claim credit for the amazing campaign, and in fact some of the prominent names have long since distanced themselves from the McCann case, especially now, as the truth emerges. And it was an amazing campaign, the like of which we have never seen before, within hours of Madeleine going missing, it was established that the child had been abducted and the parents were one step away from being saints (soon put right with a visit to the Pope). They were presented as distraught (but responsible) parents, to whom something terrible had happened.
That a group of British doctors left their very young, and some sick, babies and toddlers alone night after night in their holiday apartments, distracted from the main story, and in view of what happened, it was spiteful to point it out. Thus the 'hater/pitchforker' myth was born. Anyone pointing out that the Emperor wasn't wearing any clothes, became a social outcast, criticising the parents was on par with kicking puppies or voting UKIP.
An image was created. The perfect family went on a perfect holiday with their perfect friends. They were the cream of British society, aspirational parents who rose above their humble beginnings to form the solid middle class who put the 'Great' in Britain. The complete opposite of the free thinking libertarians who would tear the barriers down, the McCanns were educated, law abiding church goers, who not only respected the dominant ideology, they promoted it.
As medical professionals, they were contributing members of the community. With their posh house, 3 perfect children, devotion to their family and physical fitness, they portrayed the lifestyle that all good people should aspire to. They never quarrelled, even after the most traumatic incident anyone could experience, and they didn't turn to booze and drugs, they turned to God.
The goodness and perfection of this family is almost Disneyesque. Three toddlers sit quietly on the couch reading, while their mother has a leisurely shower and their father plays tennis. Three toddlers who behave perfectly, happily going off to the crèche without a whine or protest, and falling asleep within moments of being put to bed. While the rest of the adults and the babies within the holiday group were going down with diarrhea and sickness, the McCann holiday household was Pleasantville - vomit, poo, tantrum and stress free. Up until Madeleine disappeared 'it had been the perfect holiday'. Indeed. Taking 3 kids under 4 on holiday is a piece of cake. They were in no way troubled by anything, ergo, they couldn't possibly be involved in their daughter's disappearance.
As clean living, white, middle class professionals they became British Ambassadors 'for children' almost immediately with the launch of their European Tour and the Government of the day assisted them by throwing open the doors of their Embassies around the world and lining up diplomats to receive them. The following year, they again represented British parenting with their calls for an Amber Alert (a back door way in which to collect data on the public), their own lost child merely being a blip in their perfection.
Unlike the majority of families hit by tragedy, the McCanns' relationship became stronger. They never blamed themselves, and they never blamed each other. In fact, they dealt with the guilt and blame issue perfectly within the first 48 hours. It was everyone else's fault, except their own and they would name, shame, hound and sue anyone who said different. They had a much wider agenda.
The McCanns and their spin team stirred up public outrage that such a 'nice family' could have something so terrible happen to them. Gerry's mother summed it up perfectly 'how could anyone do this to a Doctor!'. The nicer the family, the more outrageous the accusations against them seemed, and Gerry reinforced their niceness each day with his child friendly toppings and mince and tatties, so his audience could say, 'wow, even though K & G are way above us on the evolutionary scale, they eat the same things as us, that is soooo endearing'. And Kate reinforced her humility with her soft 'Lady Di, Queen of Hearts' smiles and hugs for the less fortunate who joined her in prayer and reached out to touch her on her walkabouts.
|Kate - The Voice for Children|
With the best spin doctors, crisis managers and lawyers the Madeleine Fund (not a charity) could buy, the McCanns were sanitised to a point where they became untouchable. And to a point where they actually believe their own manufactured image. In their own eyes and with their own supersize sense of entitlement, they feel that it is they who have been 'wronged', all their dreams shattered by a small group of saddoes on the internet who are jealous of them.
|Gerry, the Voice for Hacked Off libel claimants|
The McCanns had clear goals. They wanted to be so much more than grief stricken parents. They wanted to be heroes, icons, role models and they wanted public recognition for their good works. Kate wanted to be the 'Voice for Children', Gerry wanted to be the 'Voice for Hacked Off' (and much, much, more). Unfortunately, neither of them had the charisma to pull it off - they only get really enthusiastic when they are raising money for themselves.
Unfortunately for them, they lack amiability and warmth, they are restricted to one (very unhappy) subject - game shows and light hearted current affairs are out. Tis my belief, it was Gerry's agenda to create an Organisation similar to the multimillion dollar NCMEC (Nation Centre for Missing and Exploited Children) in the US, with himself the UK equivalent of TV personality, John Walsh. Who can forget Gerry's gleeful little face on the Whitehouse lawn. I think that dream was shared by a few others. After Madeleine went missing, Kate realised the global extent of child abduction, child trafficking etc she told us. Having experienced the tragedy firsthand, both Kate and Gerry pushed themselves to the forefront of child protection, sharing the breakfast sofa with the Head of CEOP and reminding us regularly that our children are in constant danger.
|Gerry with Ernie Allen NCMEC|
at the Whitehouse
It is a fact of life that people like the McCanns will capitalise on peoples' natural generosity when faced with a tragedy, our instinct is to sympathise and offer help, it is what makes us human, though we see it in the animal world too, when one creature will go to the assistance of another in distress. Predators will capitalise on this human instinct, because they see sympathy and empathy as a weakness. They see people below them on the evolutionary scale (most of us, their own self esteem goes through the roof) as easy prey. We are not clever enough to work out what they are doing. They don't fear us, they despise us, because we are so easy to manipulate. For them it is a game, look closely at their videos, they are laughing at us.
|Aren't we clever?|
|How do we know, we are just here to discuss the Fund|
|Please Give Generously|
|Multimillion book deal. Sweet!|
The McCanns turned themselves into icons that the masses could worship. 'You are so brave' swooned Lorraine, 'yeh, more of that sweetcheeks' Gerry replies 'the Missus and I are hoping for honours, a life peerage at least, 'it's not many who get a standing ovation from an audience of police.
We had at home with Kate, the perfect mother, at work with Gerry, the perfect Doctor and partying with our favourite couple and other celebrities at Kensington Roof Gardens - with Kate in a dress designed for a Baptist hoedown and Gerry suitably attired to give a bible reading after. I don't like to say they are manipulating us, but they have been preparing for high office since they first appeared jogging together in matching outfits and giving us accounts of their perfect lives.
The McCanns perfect lives and parenting bears little resemblance to the reality that is familiar to most mums and dads. A home with a toddler is a battleground from dusk to dawn. Jerry Seinfeld put far better than I, having a toddler in the home is akin to leaving the top off the liquidiser. We can't control them, they can't control themselves. No, means No, for less than 5 minutes, they have the attention span of a goldfish, 'oh look, there's a castle, oh look, there's castle'.
The problem the politicians have, and politics lies at the heart of this, is the sheer volume of rich, famous and powerful people who became involved, people who will find it very difficult to explain that they didn't know what was going on. The first two policemen on the scene (referred to by Kate as Tweedledum and Tweedledee in her book), knew immediately that the scene was staged, yet the British government intervened in the investigation to the point where the lead detective was removed. Some might say people in high office perverted the course of justice.
The Establishment defended their intervention by promoting the McCanns as the perfect British Family and putting the blame onto Johnny Foreigner. Portugal were portrayed as a third world country, with corrupt police who couldn't find the abductor so they were blaming Kate and Gerry. Both the British government and the British media bought and promoted dialogue that was coming directly from 2 of the 3 arguidos, choosing to believe Kate and Gerry over the Portuguese police!
There is no real defence to the 'abduction' story, there is NOTHING tangible to back it up, even now 8 years on, there is no proof that Kate and Gerry had nothing to do with their daughter's disappearance. If there were anything that categorically proved the McCanns were innocent, their super efficient media monitoring machine would have shouted it from the rooftops and we could all go home. Proving over and over again, what a nice family they are, just ain't cutting the mustard.
This case is a perfect example of the power of the internet and social media. For the McCanns it was the best thing since sliced bread - they were getting a million hits a day on their website, and they were waking to the kerching of their paypal donate button. All the while Gerry had control of what was appearing online, the world was his own personal jet and 5* hotel. He was hobnobbing at the Whitehouse and planning an annual 'Madeleine Day for the Whole World' something involving Elton John, something Arts, something Sports, something on the scale of Comic Relief and Save the World, with all the proceeds going to the Madeleine Fund (not a Charity). Unfortunately he lacks the chutzpah of Jimmy Swaggart, so it never really took off.
Far from telling Gerry to go and have a lie down with a mind improving book (not Mein Kampf), he was besieged by similarly minded megalomaniacs who could see quite a lot in it for themselves. Birds of a feather and all that. People like Mitchell and Gamble who hover on the periphery of tragedy, feigning empathy whilst screaming inside 'what about me?'.
Having spent a lifetime studying human behaviour, I have to confess, it is the psychological aspects of this case that captivated me, more particularly how to spot a lie/liar. Kate and Gerry truly believe that we are buying what they are selling, they believe it to such an extent, that they keep appearing on our TV screens to sell us some more. They either have advisors who are inept, sycophants (who have the meter running), or they simply refuse to listen.
Vanity too plays a role and indeed vengeance. 'Here I am at the White House, here we are with Oprah Winfrey, Clement Freud, Hugh Grant and with bestie Lorraine on the breakfast sofa, so in your face you lowlife scum'.
|What a stupid question, who are you?|
Unfortunately for Kate and Gerry, their love of the limelight digs them deeper and deeper into a hole. Their odd behaviour attracts students of psychology, body language and forensic linguistics, spotting the 'tells' in every interview is an enlightening process, when you learn to spot a liar, the world changes.
The experts 100%, unreserved, belief is based on 'the parents couldn't possibly be involved because they are far too nice'. Crimes such as these are committed by chavs, drug users, alcoholics and low lives, not nice respectable families. And if we dare to believe or even think otherwise then the whole fabric of our society breaks down. And that's a pretty good reason to cover up the truth.