When the French and British hostages were held in the Lebanon - the UK played it all very low key, out of sight and out of mind. In France, pictures of the missing hostages appeared nightly just before the main evening news, with details of their names and how many days that they have been held - so that ordinary French citizens were aware of their plight. Diplomatic efforts continued publicly and behind the scenes but no one could say that they were unaware of the situation.
The key word here might be 'citizens' - successive UK Government's (Conservative and Labour) have from time to time been quite happy to allow UK citizens to disappear at the hands of questionable despotic regimes, in the name of 'British interests' i.e. commercial concessions and trade deals.
Lets hope that the hostages in Iraq are free soon to return to their families and loved ones.