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Tuesday, February 26, 2008 

It couldn't be snobbery, could it?

This (short) post is likely to ruffle a few feathers, but here goes.

It's been exactly a week since Shannon Matthews went missing, with no apparent sightings of her since whatsoever. It looks increasingly like she's either died and her body has yet to be found, or that she's been snatched, although of course I hope to be proved wrong on both of those points. The original view was likely that she had ran away, having made such comments to her friends and written something along those lines on the wall of her bedroom, about wanting to live with her father, which mitigated against the media response being over the top. Even so, all the elements that made the Madeleine case so compelling last year are here; the vanished daughter, albeit one older and not quite as photogenic; the tearful parent, begging her to come home or for anyone who has her to let her go; and the police with apparently no leads whatsoever. The disappearance has even happened in this country, meaning that there is something those in the surrounding area can actually do to help, whether keeping a look out, reporting anything they thought suspicious, or actively searching for her.

Why then has it not caught the public imagination in such a way? Could it possibly be because this is a distinctly working-class family, where the father and mother have split up, and where the mother is, not to put too fine a point on it, not as aesthetically sympathetic as Kate McCann was/is? Or that this has happened up in the sunny climate of Dewsbury, a classic Yorkshire town, which simply can't compare to the attractions of Praia da Luz for the travelling hacks?

It might simply be missing white girl fatigue, especially coming on top of the murder cases recently resolved. Either or neither way, if I was a relative, I think I'd be distinctly insulted by how Madeleine was thrust back onto the front pages last week by yet another tourist claiming to have spotted her, this time in France, while a little girl missing in this country is relegated to the far inside pages.

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Well done for this - I think people have an understandasble reticence against talking about these subjects but I think (as long as its done in a reasonable way) we need to be having more of these discussions.

I don't think there's anything I'd disagree with in what you've said here although I think I'd add that the idea of Madeleine being snatched by a, ahem, foreign person is probably more attractive to the press than someone snatched by a UK citizen.

There may also be the added fact that M's parents, being wealthier and more educated were able to be pro-active, using the system in a way that perhaps working class parents may find difficult.

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