It’s not just the four we mentioned a few days ago who’ve been running out of time.
The eight-year vow of silence by the McCann supporters about evidence that doesn’t support the pair and the increasingly absurd assertions that scepticism about the parents is on its last legs has simply demonstrated the unreality of their hopes - and the reality of the Bureau’s famous Empty Cupboard.
What's in There?
For those few still unfamiliar with it there are two cupboards. One is labelled a) “emerging evidence actively supporting the McCanns’ version of events” and the other is b) “evidence not actively supporting their version”.
After nine years, three separate investigations and the tested court evidence in a drawn-out libel case concerning an “underdetermined event” on May 3 2007, the probability of cupboard a) remaining empty by chance is approaching more and more closely to zero as more and more time passes. And yet it is, incontrovertibly, still empty.
Without some attempt at countering or confronting this statistical fact the parents’ situation can only get worse. But the strategy of silence about the empty shelves, silence about troubling developments (the eyewitness stuff etc.) but aggressive volubility towards “enemies” like Amaral – a strategy which obviously derives from the family, not from supporters on the ground up – has made it worse. Staying silent when you think it suits you, as Kate McCann can confirm from her Portuguese experience, is only a short term defensive strategy because it can never remove doubt and can never change anyone’s mind positively in your favour.
And What's Changed?
The growing press poison against them this year shows the result. The response by the McCanns to what have been some pretty disgusting and slimy stories has been extraordinarily inert: hardly any comment, no effective denials and, importantly, not a single threat to sue. What happened? What's changed?
Whatever it is doesn't signal that they're guilty of a crime but it does mean, without doubt, that anything short of unequivocal clearance by Operation Grange, either by arrests of others or by the production, in Leicester Police’s words, of previously unrevealed evidence demonstrating their non-involvement, will leave the couple and their family in exactly the same situation they’re in now. And compared to those heady days of “exoneration” and a cowering media back in 2008, when the prospect of the resumption of "a normal life" was supposedly imminent, it really isn’t an attractive place to be, is it?
In this context you can forget any garbage about Grange’s findings not being made public: that’s only what the supporters hope. If the evidence exists to put the couple in the clear then, one way or another, through the UK or Portugal, through statements or through leaks, through lawyers or journalists, it’s going to come out and in detail. Without it there is only one - and this time definitive - conclusion to be drawn: that no such evidence exists and the cupboard will forever remain empty: an invitation to every half-baked “researcher” or tabloid journalist to go on digging, hinting, poisoning and libelling for the rest of the couple’s lives. Is that really what they want?
But what can the supporters do at this stage? Virtually nothing. The suspect ones, the posters whose connections to the family are unclear, are the very people who agreed the policy and who share the mysterious apparent paralysis of the parents themselves. The only direction they’ve been able to give so far – note it – is start laying off Amaral but not too obviously.* Many of the others, bewildered, can be observed sneaking quietly towards the exits under the cover of loud distraction noise from the rearguard. But they’ll never really learn, will they?
Winners and Losers
Grange will conclude but will not produce the clearance evidence because none has been found. The parents have lost. Not “will lose”: have lost.
* You'll see some loud - but brief - abuse of Amaral on twitter soon: they always read the Bureau.