If you’re worried about Bilderberg, just take a look at the guest list...

Even the most fanciful alarmist will accept that Michael O’Leary could play no part in global domination

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The Independent Online

Conspiracy theorists of the world, prepare for a monstrous blow. So shocking is the revelation soon to follow that I, sweet natured to a fault, will witter on aimlessly for a while to give you time to hunt out the smelling salts and brace for impact.

The dreaded news concerns the Bilderberg Group’s annual gathering, which begins in an Austrian mountain resort this week. For decades, nothing – not the moon landings, not the death of Princess Diana, not the 9/11 attacks on the eastern US – has excited creative theorising like the yearly congregation of the great, the good, the not so good and the bleedin’ horrible from across this globe.

In a way, this is understandable. No minutes are ever taken at the meetings. An inviolable omerta prevents the politicians, European royalty (Princes Charles and Philip have been), multinational CEOs, military chiefs, spooks and so on from disclosing the contents of their chats, whether in formal conclave or when bonding over a communal pissing session in the woods. Meanwhile, although the guest list changes from year to year, Henry Kissinger – a dead ringer in many eyes for 007’s mortal enemy Number 1, the criminal genius behind SPECTRE – is a constant.

This combination of Dr Kissinger, secrecy, the overwhelming whiff of power and the presence of figures from both  the left and right of the geopolitical spectrum (the roster of home-grown talent features Denis Healey and Ken Clarke) enables Bilderberg to be all things to all  conspiracy theorists.

Some believe the meisterplan is to impose pan-global fascism. Others are convinced it intends to yoke the planet with totalitarian Marxism. Where they tend to agree is that, by whichever system of government, Bilderberg exists to create – what else? – a New World Order.

And so to this year’s guest list. Most of those invited (investment and central bankers, academics, media overlords, diplomats, etc – are more obscure than their job titles, though there are familiar names such as ex-Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Rona Fairhead of the BBC Trust and job-slashing HSBC, disgraced US General David Petraeus, and our very own George Osborne. Also present, a shade surprisingly given his own current job status (none), is Osborne’s former shadow, officially listed as Edward M Balls.

With the festering hypocrisy of someone who was relentlessly poisonous about Balls for years, let me say that I’m delighted by his inclusion. He covered himself in glory by reacting to election defeat, in his loser’s speech at the Morley count, with just as much grace as a tearful Novak Djokovic took his victory in Paris on Sunday. Before Ed takes his first steps along the road to national treasuredom – a highway signposted by appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off and ITV’s elegant new reality show, Love Island – Edward M deserves a final chance to feel important and relevant.

And now, assuming that the smelling salts are at hand, to that horrendous shock. If you thought Chequers’ reputation as a citadel of high politics died the day Tess Daly and Vernon Kaye joined Tony Blair there for lunch, consider this. Making his Bilderberg debut in the Tyrol tomorrow is – can you guess? I don’t believe you can – Michael O’Leary. Lest anyone mistake it for a misprint, that’s M.I.C.H.A.E.L  O’.L.E.A.R.Y. Yup, that one. The eejit from Ryanair.

We need not belabour the point by reprising his airline’s reputation for customer service, or O’Leary’s personal form in the field of public relations, or how the two conspired a couple of years ago to compel him to issue a profits warning. While admiring the Irishman’s Millwallian integrity in embracing the hatred of others (“I don’t give a shit if nobody likes me,” he said, which seems a tremendous stroke of luck), the most insightful appraisal yet made of him came from a certain Michael O’Leary: “I’m probably just an obnoxious little bollix.”

While being obnoxious is hardly a death blow to an ambition to impose malign dominion over the earth, as the late Adolf Hitler would confirm, being a little bollix certainly is. Even the most fanciful Bilderberg alarmist will accept that there can be no conspiracy for global dominion in which so essentially comic a character would be offered any part.

The more creative conspiracists could, I suppose, float the theory that Dr Kissinger plans to make Ryanair the New World Order flag carrier, changing its name to NWO Airways while retaining the old company slogan (“Talk to the hand”). But can you picture the CEO of Google crushed between a pair of obese, ecstasy-raddled tourists on the 1.30am Stansted flight from Ibiza? Could the likes of ex-Queen Beatrix, who travels with a lot of luggage, afford Mr O’Leary’s per-suitcase charge? And what brand of evil genius would risk their New World Order being indefinitely delayed by problems with the landing gear?

How Michael O’Leary came to be the equivalent of a competition winner at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball may never be known. Perhaps it was simple confusion of names, and they meant to ask Dermot O’Leary, the pleasantly blokeish TV presenter? But the moment the little bollix accepted, the organisation mutated from SPECTRE into Dr Evil’s hapless outfit of goons in Austin Powers.

Next year, they might as well ask Joey Essex for all the difference it would make. It’s over for Bilderberg. The conspiracy theorist caravan has tarried long enough, and must now move on.

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