Wednesday, June 5, 2013
No minutes, no press conferences - just the world's power brokers
From tomorrow, Watford’s finest hotel and spa will host the secretive Bilderberg conference where power brokers may include Cameron, Kissinger and even Obama. Joy Lo Dico gets a room
Hold on? Obama at The Grove, the luxury hotel that usually hosts the England football team before games at Wembley? In Watford?
Tomorrow, the country house style retreat and spa that soothes the brows of Hugh Grant and the Beckhams will host this year’s Bilderberg Group conference, in which the world’s power brokers meet under Chatham House rules to kick around the talking points of the day. According to the Bilderberg website, it is “an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America”, with “off-the-record discussions about mega-trends” and the major issues facing the world. If you choose to believe the conspiracy theorists, Bilderberg is running a shadow world government away from the eyes of the media.
This year’s official participant list, released by Bilderberg in a new spirit of openness, must have been put together by a Machiavellian genius to confound the agitators. They will have expected Chancellor George Osborne, puppeteer of the British economy, but what has his Labour counterpart Ed Balls done accepting the invitation? Prince of Darkness Peter Mandelson is a shoo-in but cuddly liberal Shirley Williams too? Eric Schmidt, CEO of the all-seeing Google, clinking glasses on the terrace with internet freedom fighter Lawrence Lessig? And why Watford?
The secrecy of Bilderberg is also the fascination. Founded in 1954, it takes its name from its first venue, the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek in the Netherlands. No minutes are taken nor press conferences held but world leaders from Tony Blair and Bill Clinton to Angela Merkel have all rubbed shoulders with business leaders and academics in this private sphere.
Officially there this weekend are the cream of the Eurocracy — Jose Barroso, president of the European Commission, former Italian prime minister Mario Monti and present Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte — as well as the bosses of BP, Goldman Sachs and defence firms EADS and BAE Systems and of course the regular Henry Kissinger.
Those are the public names. You could take a punt that Mark Carney, the new governor of the Bank of England might also appear, perhaps even former French president Nicolas Sarkozy who has been padding around London this week. Boris Johnson is conveniently on holiday but Prime Minister David Cameron inconveniently not and, with so many bigshots in Watford, can he afford not to drop in?
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