Our man at Bilderberg: Close, but still no cabal

With the annual secret meeting of the global elite only hours away, the shadowy corporatocracy remains tantalisingly elusive, writes Charlie Skelton

It's B minus one, the day before Bilderberg. And it is definitely happening: I've seen the guns. I thought it might be a good idea to go to the Astir Palace resort for lunch. See just what kind of a cheese omelette the president of the Federal Reserve is going to be enjoying. I didn't get far. At the gates, there were machine guns and men in loose jackets and guards checking under cars for bombs with those mirrors on sticks that morbidly obese people use to check whether they've taken their knickers off.

I should have come for breakfast. Maybe I would have got in. A security guard opened the cab door, leaned in, and asked me if I was staying at the hotel. I gave it my best shot. Not much of a shot, but my best one. "I'm here for lunch." Smile feebly.

"We're closed now. Only guests." And to the driver, a bark of instructions to turn around. We turned around. I explained to the driver what was happening at the hotel, trying to avoid words like "globalisation", "corporatocracy" and "dissolution of sovereignties leading to supranational control structures". I think he got the gist. "They come to here? The leaders of the world?" He honked amiably at a girl in a bikini. "To have conference, or to have holiday? Now is time for holiday! Look to the beach!"

I looked to the beach. Everyone was splishing about in the shallows, batting tennis balls at each other and reading whatever the Greek equivalent of John Grisham is. John Grisham, probably. The sky is blue; the sea is calm. Even the dogs that sleep on the sand are well fed from the restaurant bins. What could possibly be wrong with the world?

Just up the hill, a small group of people are meeting for the weekend. Might play a bit of ping pong. Where's the harm in that? Might thrash out a few broad brushstroke policies. Microchipping? World Bank? These things need to be discussed. And this is as nice a place as any to discuss them.

The hotel offers "gourmet dining, atmospheric bars, and extensive meeting & events areas and services." And the spa has a steam room. And you know how much Kissinger loves to steam ("Hotter! I vont it hotter!")

Independently of me, Jim Tucker failed to get in for a snoop. He stubs out a weary cigarette. I don't sense it's his first. I ask him about the order of business. "This year? They'll be talking about that ridiculous swiiiiiiine flu." And in the five raked-out syllables he gives the word "swine", he paints his distaste of the subject. "They want to use it to turn the World Health Organisation into the global department of health." I have to ask. "Isn't it already?"

"Only for members of the United Nations. Also, they'll be talking about ratifying the international criminal court. Obama is waiting until he gets a sympathetic senate, after the 2010 elections. Then he'll pass it one evening, late in the week: too late for the Sunday papers, too late for the talk shows. It'll happen, and no one will notice. First part of 2011."

I'll say this for Mr Tucker: for a fortune teller, he's giving us details. Nothing about "You will travel overseas" or "Watch out for a man with a D in his name."

Like David Rockefeller? "He's 93, but if he's alive, he'll be here," growls Jim. But again, why is this a problem? Why is anyone bothered that a bunch of powerful psychopaths – sorry, sociopaths ... sorry, bankers and politicians – have a yearly get-together? Many people admit to attending. As one of the commenters on my previous piece rightly points out, George Osborne mentioned going to Bilderberg 2008 in his official expenses (apparently he paid for the flights himself). So why worry? Why interrupt your John Grisham for a single second as the limousines roll up the hill?

Perhaps the problem is not that people are meeting up. If there's a problem at all, it's whether or not there is a coherent global agenda, whether this agenda is something towards which people in power are doing their best to advance things, and whether this agenda (if it exists at all!) is a benign one.

For now, my jury is out. Except to say that when it comes to global politics I'm reminded of that Edgar Allan Poe short story: the one in which [WARNING: SPOILER] a purloined letter is concealed out in the open, where everyone can see it. Like large letters written across a map, so large they can't be seen. I can't for the life of me remember which tale it is, Murders on the Rue Morgue or The Purloined Letter. One of those two.

I'm going back to the Astir Palace now. The heat of the day is passing, and afternoon sun looks good on the barrel of a machine gun. (guardian.co.uk, 5.13.2009, Charlie Skelton, Article history)

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