For the scores of protesters gathered in a cordoned-off corner of Watford’s luxury Grove Hotel grounds, today was something of a victory. They were there to expose what is billed as the ultimate in furtive gatherings, a meeting where global policy is drawn up behind firmly closed doors by a small group of the west’s uber-elite. Or that’s what critics of the Bilderberg group would have you believe.
Yet there was nothing secretive about the start of the four-day ego fest, which was being live streamed into conspiracy theorists’ living rooms all over the planet by the hardcore of alternative media, epitomised by US radio host Alex Jones, who had assembled in their hundreds in the hope of catching a glimpse of attendees, ranging from our own Chancellor George Osborne and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to the heads of Google, BP, Goldman Sachs and Shell.
Even the BBC – which some Bilderberg conspiracy theorists believe is shorthand for Bilderberg Club, such has been its lack of coverage in previous years – was out in force, as were most other mainstream outlets. Led by the vociferous Jones, whose voice practically carried the half-mile up the hill from the media tent to the hotel where attendees were gathering, there was even talk a Bilderberger might break rank to disclose for the first time since the group started in 1954 some of the detail up for discussion.
With conspiracy acolytes hanging on his every syllable, Jones declared: “We’re assaulting the Bilderberg group with the searing light of publicity that will burn them up like Count Dracula. We are exposing the puppet masters hiding behind a ring of steel. They do exist.”
Chauffeured cars zoomed past the protesters, who were shouting “Scum, burn in hell”. Wayne Fontana, 67, flew over from Spain’s Costa Brava to do his bit by just being there.
The singer was nothing if not sincere in his belief that events for the next “365 days” were being mapped out up on the hill, along with some heavy duty “brainwashing”. “War with Iran” was only a question of timing, with “the end game being total domination of the world and a population reduction of 90 per cent,” he said. “When you see the euro go down the tube, the dollar will follow, and then they’ll say, ‘Just use these plastic cards’. Then they’ll put chips in the back of our necks. If you don’t do what they say, they’ll turn off your chip and you’ll starve to death.”
Simon Taylor, 46, a courier driver from Dewsbury, spoke for many when he said the Bilderbergers were out to “bankrupt the middle classes”. This, Jones added, was the goal of those gathered at the Grove who wanted to create “a new global dark age. To make us so poor we can’t politically organise. Tyrants hate a middle class”.
The meeting’s agenda, made public for the first time this year along with a breakdown of the 138 attendees – of which just 14 were women – listed such topics as cyber warfare, developments in the Middle East, big data, and the all-encompassing “current affairs”.
For many of the protesters, however, the real draw comes tomorrow when David Icke, the self-styled global saviour, arrives to address the crowd at what has been dubbed the Bilderberg Fringe Festival. Police were warned to expect up to 10,000 attendees.
Who’s invited: Bilderberg guests
Jeff Bezos Amazon founder and chief executive
Eric Schmidt Google executive chairman
George Osborne Chancellor
Ed Balls Shadow Chancellor
Lord Mandelson Labour peer
Peter Sutherland Goldman Sachs International chairman
Henry Kissinger Former US Secretary of State
Marcus Agius Former Barclays chairman
David Petraeus Ex-US general
Not invited but going anyway
David Icke Conspiracy theorist