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Moral Crisis in the UK: Opinion Articles about the McCanns

Jetsetting & Paternity Issues

a video by Mariana

Crying shame
by Carole Malone

I DON'T want to make Kate and Gerry McCann's pain worse than it already is. But they chose to make public their fury about leaked documents in which they told police Madeleine had said the day before she was snatched: "Mummy, why didn't you come to us when we were crying?"

So I feel entitled to say, just as publicly, what right do they have to be upset if it's the TRUTH? Friends reckon the leaking of the documents was a move by Portuguese police to smear the McCanns and sabotage their visit to the European parliament, where they made an appeal for a Europe-wide alert system for abducted children.

I'm sorry but however much sympathy I have for the McCanns, the fact remains that they repeatedly left their three kids alone in an unlocked apartment on that holiday, while they went out to dinner with friends.

And they did that even after Madeleine had told them she'd woken up alone and crying— AND after they'd promised to keep a closer eye on her.

No alert system in the world could have prevented what happened to Madeleine.

Only Kate and Gerry could.

This week’s shock Madeleine revelation
by Matt Rudd

Gerry and Kate McCann left her and her younger siblings to cry themselves to sleep the night before she vanished. “Mummy, why didn’t you come when we were crying last night?” reads the the police statement leaked to a Portuguese journalist. Cue national sharp intake of breath. Cue McCanns straight back up the public enemy hit parade. Cue evil parents. Cue shocking way to behave.

And then the counter claims from the McCann camp that at least it shows they were being honest. That it’s all a big plot to undermine their Euro-crusade. You know, the one where we’ll end up having a big red child-abduction panic button installed at the end of every street so we’re all just that bit more paranoid and overprotective of our kids.

I can’t see what the news is here . . . surely leaving your offspring to cry is de rigueur these days? Doesn’t everyone follow childless child guru Gina Ford and her controlled crying strategy? If your child has the temerity to cry, don’t go to it. Lord, no. Then you’ll be spoiling it. Just turn the baby monitor down, ignore the flashing red lights and crack on with your meal. Things will soon quieten down.

Don’t accuse them of being bad parents. Just normal ones. Perhaps that’s bad enough.

Through a child's eyes
By Dani Garavelli

LAST weekend, I spent a night in a country hotel in Perthshire with my family. It was a beautiful place, but not one much used to accommodating children, particularly fidgety, bumptious boys who find it difficult to walk across a room without banging into furniture.
As we trekked past the dining room, with its fine china, three sets of cutlery and crystal glasses, it became clear that dining en famille was out of the question. The hotel staff's solution was to feed the children early in their rooms then leave them to watch TV, while we enjoyed a four-course meal in peace. Sounds pretty good you might think. But leaving the children alone for any length of time was a first for us and what with the Matthews and McCann cases dominating the headlines again, we were ambivalent about doing it now.

Bear in mind, this was no tapas bar scenario: our oldest son is almost 11, the dining room was just up the corridor, he knew where to find us and the meal was likely to take an hour and a half at most. But still we weren't sure. And, more surprisingly, neither were the children. In fact, they seemed distinctly nervous about the prospect of being let off the parental leash. They had a litany of questions: Would the patio doors to the room be locked or unlocked? How often would we be checking on them? Could we put a clock out so they would know when our next visit was due? And so we ate, with our eyes on our watches, popping out between every course to make sure they were not upset.

It's ridiculous, really, that it should have come to this. That children who are capable in so many ways, should be worried about being left alone for such a short time; ridiculous that we have allowed our own irrational fear to impinge on their independence and emotional well-being. Ridiculous, but also inevitable when you think of the way in which the abductions of Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews have seeped into every crevice of our lives over the past year.

I know it's not new, this sense of claustrophobia caused by our inflated fear of crime. But what struck me last week – as Shannon's mother Karen was arrested and charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice, and it emerged Madeleine had berated the McCanns for failing to answer her cries the night before she went missing – is just how bewildering a place the world must be for children viewing it through the prism of these strange cases.

It's not just the relentlessness of the coverage, although this in itself must be overwhelming for children who are now familiar with the faces of Shannon and Madeleine. It's the way in which they have mutated, from horrific, but somehow manageable stories of children snatched from loving parents by predatory strangers, to ones in which there are no moral certainties; ones where anyone, anywhere could be the enemy, and where those whose job it is to protect their children have been shown to be, at best, unresponsive to their needs, and at worst, complicit in their coming to harm.

The adult response to such chaos is to try to impose order from the situation before them; to mould the shifting contours of these unfathomable happenings into something less alien. And so these cases come to be seen – not as terrible one-offs – but as signifiers of social change. We saw it with the McCanns, who long ago ceased to be individuals caught up in a personal nightmare, and became emblems of a certain kind of middle-class complacency.

And now we are seeing it fourfold with the Matthews family – whose dysfunctional behaviour is being treated, not as an aberration, but as evidence of the existence of new, feral underclass. How some elements of the press loved it when it appeared Shannon's abduction might have been copied from an episode of Shameless – because that's what they want us to believe poverty in Britain looks like now. Lots of feckless Frank Gallaghers drinking, breeding, collecting benefits and taking no responsibility for anything. Many commentators ignored the fact that ordinary families in Dewsbury banded together to search for Shannon as they wrote off vast swathes of the urban UK as moral wastegrounds.

The notion that the Matthews family is the "new face of poverty" is, of course, nonsense. There's always been deprivation – and it's always produced a hefty dollop of ugliness alongside the famed community spirit.

Take child killer Mary Bell, for instance. She grew up in Scotswood, Newcastle, in the 1960s. It was the kind of estate where children as young as three roamed free around building sites as their families did their best to make ends meet. In the midst of this run-of-the-mill deprivation, was Mary
Bell's mother, Betty, a some time prostitute, who brought a succession of men home and serviced them in front of her daughter. It is thought she tried to kill Mary several times. At the very least, she was ambivalent towards her, possibly because she was conceived as the result of Betty being raped by her own father. You can't get much more dysfunctional than that.

I suspect life has always been a mish-mash of good and bad, it's just that now the bad's a lot more in our faces. And in our children's faces.

That's going to be difficult to cope with. But encouraging our sons and daughters to believe we are in the grip of an unprecedented moral crisis is far more disabling than telling them the truth: that life is unpredictable, that bad things happen to good people, that it was always thus, and that most of us muddle through regardless. No wonder they don't want to be left alone.


  1. Regarding the Times story by Matt Rudd:". “Mummy, why didn’t you come when we were crying last night?” reads the the police statement leaked to a Portuguese journalist " - it's a wrong information(as per ususal in the British media), this was leaked by a Spanish reporter from telecinco, a Spanish TV channel. Journalist Nacho Abad, leaked this informations in a program called "El Programa de Ana Rosa": the Program of Ana Rosa. Telecinco was used for an exclusive interview with the Mccanns last year, even before the program was aired much publicity was made in the UK press stating that Kate had cried on cameras for the first time. Which ended up being another spin from Clarence Mitchell and Team McCann. So, as far as we know Telecinco is leaking a McCann's timely spin to avoid returning to Portugal. The Spanish Journalist never stated that his sources origins was the Portuguese Police. Another organized attempt to smear again the PJ.

  2. I thought the same myself, But whta do you make of the fact the same leak revealed the truth about where cuddle cat was? It was not that long ago Kate told the news of the world she knew immediately Madeleine was taken because the cuddle cat was on a high shelf not in reach of Madeleine?
    And why are the press harping on about the leak but not the fact that leak proves the McCanns have lied.
    Something stinks here, I am astounded no media is pointing out the cuddle cat lie, and as Clarence loves to spin, How will he spin that one??

  3. Is there someone who can answer the following question?
    Did Ana Rosa show photocopies of the original documents?
    What exactly was shown on the Spanish show?

  4. From the excerpt of the video around 2 minutes, there's no document showed, just a voice over and some quotes of the most interesting bits. Don't know if in the full talk show there was something shown, not likely in my opinion.

  5. Thanks Joana, this is proof that the leak did not come from the PJ.

    If the Spanish show had photocopies of the documents they would have shown them.

    Who the heck they think they are kidding?
    Do they think we are 3 year olds?


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