Bilderberg 2010: Out of the darkness, into the light

In his final dispatch from Bilderberg 2010, Charlie Skelton concludes that the gathering has finally broken out into the awareness of the press and public
Charlie Skelton

The Guardian
Jun. 10, 2010

Dr Henry Kissinger at Bilderberg 2010. Photograph: Quierosaber

I found out this week, as I always deep-down suspected, since the age of about four, that I'm actually a spy working for Her Majesty's Secret Service. I'm annoyed that I didn't know sooner, as I would have used my immunity from prosecution and begun bumping people off much sooner. I can't wait to get back to the UK. I've got a serious backlog.

The revelation emerged during an impromptu news conference on a hot roundabout, with one of the more famous Bilderberg documentarians, Daniel Estulin. Someone had mentioned one of my articles, and he said: "Forget about that guy, he's an MI6 agent." If you think it was a surprise for me, you can hardly imagine how my handlers in Whitehall took it.

There's no greater shame for an agent than a blown cover. It's worse than throwing the wrong person off a multistorey car park. If I'm not careful, I'm going to find myself spending the next 18 months decrypting Russian interceptions on a north sea trawler.

I think Daniel Estulin is annoyed with me because I'm not Daniel Estulin. I rather suspect that he sees the dawning new world order as a giant metaphysical battle between lone crusader Daniel Estulin and the ranged powers of evil.

Which doesn't mean to say that he's wrongheaded about what goes on in Bilderberg. His sources are good. It's just that he loves playing to the crowd, and is prone to making statements which are as bold and flashy as his silk trousers.

Turns out I'm in good company: Estulin also branded Jon Ronson as MI6, which is an even more fantastical assertion. Ronson, as everyone knows, is MI5.

So yes, I'm a government agent. It really is a gun in my pocket, and I'm not pleased to see you. I half thought a bit of disinfo-mud might be slung my way, but I wasn't expecting it from this side of the police tape. (Not helpful, Mr Estulin. Really not helpful....)

The word "Bilderberg" attracts mud like lazy thought processes attract idiots. For decades now, one mention of "Bilderberg" has been enough to brand you a nut. An ultra-left/right/whoknowswhat-wing paranoid nut with some kind of existential dysmorphia and a coathanger wrapped round your head so you can pick up drivetime radio on Neptune.

These days, it's changed. These days, if you don't know what Bilderberg is, you look out of touch. If you chuckle it off, and say it's just an over-70s golf weekend, you sound ill-informed. If you think it's a "conspiracy" you need to flick back a few pages in the dictionary. The word you're looking for is "conference".

A four-day conference held in secret, with a €10m security budget, run by David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and the Queen of the Netherlands. Nothing weird about that. Nothing to see here. Move along. What undoubtedly was weird about Bilderberg 2010 is that Kissinger chose to hold it in Spain. He's not exactly on Spain's Christmas card list.

"If he was here now, if Henry Kissinger was here, I was arrest him, and it would be" -- and here the police officer noosed his fingers around his throat, and delivered the universal sound of a wrung neck -- "it would be kkkkkrrrchkk".

The policeman didn't seem to see the absurdity of the situation. He was a Spanish policeman who'd just spent four days standing outside a Spanish hotel, protecting a man wanted for questioning in Spain about war crimes. People were getting arrested for trying to take photographs of someone who should have been getting arrested. Some comfort: at least we got the photos. (Well done Quierosaber, it was worth the dehydration cramps).

It's an odd thing. George Osborne goes four times in a row to Kissinger's long and lavish conference, no one raises an eyebrow. But if he so much as popped his head into Broadmoor for Peter Sutcliffe's birthday party, there'd be an outcry. I don't get it.

Another thing I don't get: the consensus that Bilderberg is supposed to form and its relationship to all our welfares. But that discussion is for another time -- perhaps sooner rather than later. For now, it's just incredible that we can talk about Bilderberg at all: we can start addressing its agenda (as published on its website). We can examine its role in the formation of public policy.

These are questions for serious people: the spectrum of political debate must expand to fit the facts. Morons will still twirp out their "tin hat" halfwitticisms, but they sound oddly dated.

I don't want to sound too much like Carlos Castaneda, but there's been a shift in consciousness. The word "Bilderberg" has broken out into the awareness of the press and public, exactly like Robbie Williams never did in America. For the first time, the press took note, camera crews made the journey, and last shreds of secrecy and shame were torn away by our photos of the delegates.

I've never quite understood the shame of attending Bilderberg. The jacket sleeves in front of the face, the blackened limos. Back before it started, we overheard some conference organisers saying that there were fewer delegates this year, because "many of them were worried about the publicity". Heaven forbid someone should see you at Bilderberg! The very thought!

That sort of thing feels very "old politics", very pre-coalition, jarring with the openness of Cameron, the transparency of Clegg. David Cameron attended Bilderberg in 2008. I'm sure he'd be glad to talk about it, and not stoop to what Tony Blair did (Bilderberg 1993) and lie to parliament about going.

The lies of Bilderberg are melting away as it steps out into the Spanish sunshine.

The question of how Bilderberg has remained so long in the shadows is a big one, and not to be dismissed with a lame little: "no one's interested in the natterings of a retirees' lunch party". A couple of things I'd like to share with you. The first is a pair of screengrabs taken last night from the Reuters and AP news searches:

Screengrab of search for 'Bilderberg' on Reuters and AP news wires

So if you think Reuters and AP provide the world with some kind of pure news-stream of undiluted fact truth, you're plainly mistaken. Quite how "managed" they are, I can't say.

The second thing is a conversation I had with the BBC foreign news desk. I'd been talking to them about maybe running a story on Bilderberg 2010. Everything was sounding positive, until I made a follow-up call. This is what I was told.

"Ah, yes, sorry, Bilderberg's been taken off our diary."

"Excuse me?"

"Um... It wasn't my decision."

Do I think that the Bilderberg group does its best to keep off the news wires? Absolutely. Do I think it has an active PR-policy of "ignorance management"? Absolutely. Do I think that tactic will work any more? Absolutely not. The cat's out of the Bilderbag.

Last weekend, the Bilderberg group launched its own website (confirmed by German attendee Olaf Scholz as genuine).

In 2011, I predict, there will be a press release in advance of the meeting. In 2012, a press statement at the police cordon. In 2013, a press conference in the hotel itself. If there is one, I won't be there. Proper reporters will be there instead, asking proper questions.

Until such time as a press conference happens, I'll go along and chew away at the absurdities of this cloak and dagger forum. Until it stops being absurd. And many others will come besides.

Last year there were fewer than a dozen. This year, maybe 150. Ten or so came to Sitges who'd read my reports from Vouliagmeni and emailed me afterwards. From around Europe, dozens of student activists made the journey. Almost all of them blokes. I swear, if you're a single girl interested in geopolitics, you could do a lot worse than Bilderberg 2011. I spent the week surrounded by probably the most switched on, articulate, interested young men I've ever met. (The guys from We Are Change Belgium are so clued-up and full of energy they scare me).

Where 2009 was a dystopian nightmare, 2010 was hopeful, comradely and fun. 2011 will be bigger, more determined, and friendlier than ever. Provided they don't shift the whole operation to Beijing. Provided we don't get peppersprayed by the Chinese police. If you want to join in, email us on: [email protected].

Maybe you could help out with some expertise (technical, photographic, web, PR, legal advice... whatever you think would be useful would probably be useful). Best of all, just turn up. One hundred and fifty of us did this year, and it only rained on the Sunday. Next year, four straight days of glorious sunshine. I promise.

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