Bilderberg 2010: Plutocracy with palm trees

The shadowy global elite is meeting in Sitges – and Charlie Skelton is there, hoping for a new spirit of CamCleggian openness

Sitges
Sitges in Catalonia, where a Bilderburg beach party and 'awareness camp' are planned. Photograph: Corbis

This is the first dispatch from Charlie Skelton's Bilderblog. Read part two here.

Another year, another Bilderberg. The first "participants" (as the delegates are known) won't be arriving until Thursday, but already the Hotel Dolce in Sitges is buzzing with anticipation. This Catalan seaside town hasn't hosted an event as large and politically sensitive as Bilderberg since the legendary 2008 Foam Party at the Mr Gay Sitges awards night.

Last year, Bilderberg was held in Vouliagmeni, on the coast just south of Athens. The Greek minister of finance attended, the minister of foreign affairs, and the governor of the National Bank of Greece. A few months later, Greece was bankrupt and Athens was in flames. So … good luck, Madrid!

Police are already stretching their red stripy tape around the hotel, and zipping up and around the local roads in their squad cars, sniffing for trouble. I'm really hoping there's none to find. The Spanish are promising a beach party and an "awareness camp", with political discussion forums and meditation zones.

I plan to spend at least part of Friday sitting cross-legged in a campsite, sending beams of white light up the hill and into the hotel. Feel my love, Marcus Agius – Chairman of Barclays and senior non-executive director on the BBC's new executive board. Let it surround you, Queen Sofia of Spain. Don't fight it, president of the World Bank. You can't beat the love.

It would be nicer if the interface between Bilderberg and the world could be softer – if it could turn an open face towards us, rather than the barrel of a machine gun. What I'm hoping is that this year, in the all-new CamCleggian spirit of openness and political transparency, any British elected official who attends the meeting – and I'm talking to you, Kenneth Clarke and George Osborne – will tell us they attended, tell us what they spoke about, and tell us what the next 12 months has in store. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Not that anyone is really asking. I've come along again this year because I had the horrible, nagging thought that no other journalists would.

Not that I'm a proper journalist. Hardly: consider me an interested citizen of the world come to bear witness to a peculiar, important, and unsettling event.

For a long and luxurious weekend at the Dolce Sitges, relishing its "new and creative buffet concepts" (a table with food on it), prime ministers will mingle with European royalty, with various EU commissioners, with representatives from Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, AIB, Deutsche Bank, Chase Manhattan and Royal Dutch Shell.

They'll clink glasses with President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke (he is confirmed for this year). And join the Friday night conga line behind the US treasury secretary (Tim Geithner went last year; he goes a lot). We can reasonably expect the head of the Federal Reserve, the president of the World Bank, the secretary general of Nato … they've all attended in the past and many will attend again. So yes, important it is; to think otherwise is painfully naive (see below for the usual "just a big boys' club" comments …)

The conference hotel may be perched above a golf course, and boast two ping pong tables, but this four-day event isn't about who is better at table tennis, Ken Clarke or David Rockefeller (it's Rockefeller). This is about big business, global financial strategy and the economic future of Europe … if indeed it has one.

And most importantly, this four-day event doesn't start until tomorrow – and continues all the way through the weekend – so if you're a PROPER journalist reading this, or a blogger, or simply a curious citizen of a Europe teetering on the edge, then come along. Please come. I'll buy you a Catalan beer. I recommend the Rosita. It's fruity but ballsy – not unlike the winner of Mr Gay Sitges 2008.


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  • Autonova1 Autonova1

    2 Jun 2010, 1:04PM

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  • DeepSeaDiver DeepSeaDiver

    2 Jun 2010, 1:06PM

    Charlie,

    Nice to know the Guardian is letting you publish reports from Bilderberg again. After your experiences last time, please tell me you are not going to let the potential for comedy (I know there is definitely something absurd about this event) overtake serious analysis of this meeting and what it represents. Many people will only hear about it at this time of year and from this newspaper. Don't squander your opportunity to blow the cover on the global elites' agenda by becoming a poor imitation of C. Brooker - I know you are better than that!

  • Johanes Johanes

    2 Jun 2010, 1:14PM

    Hi, Charlie Skelton, a friendly word in your ear: as a true citizen of the world, it would be nice if your interface with the Iberian scene was a tiny bit more sensitive.

    Ever heard of the saying "Catalonia is not Spain"? It's certainly a view you may hear voiced at some point. A bit like Scotland and England, really.

    Anyway, enjoy yourself. Catalonia may or may not be Spain, but it is certainly lovely, and there's so much more to see than Barcelona, as you'll find out!

  • rouputuan rouputuan

    2 Jun 2010, 1:21PM

    guardian can we please have this gentleman on duty more often. he and hadley freeman should cover the next davos. at least we will be able to smile thru our tears...

  • danphobic danphobic

    2 Jun 2010, 1:26PM

    Yeah it was an entertaining and scary(in points) read last year. Glad your onto it again. Maybe this could become your thing? Getting chased around and avoiding shady government security types to bring us the truth? Probably easier than writing a sketch show no doubt?

  • SouthgatesNose SouthgatesNose

    2 Jun 2010, 1:33PM

    I'd like to echo Mr. DeepSeaDiver here - last year you acted like a bit of a Charlie. If I recall, you did some really thick things like trying to photograph the hotel, and as was so painfully, blunderingly inevitable, got followed around for the duration by the police.

    I wrote a great number of comments exhorting you to treat this group seriously, rather than pulling the comedian schtick - and you completely failed. I really hope this series of blogs won't be a depressing repitition. Did the Guardian let you do this in order to redeem yourself? Because I was of the opinion that last time around, if I was Alan Rusbridger, I would have sat you down at my desk with a revolover and a bottle of whisky, then stepped outside and waited for you to do the honourable thing.

    And moderators - can you please make some effort to stop the conspiracy/illuminati cretins posting their drivel on here?

    Autonova1: Do you expect to gain answers as to 'who's in charge of us' from Charlie Skelton? Very unwise, judging by past performance. Do you think that giving them a name and a face will somehow empower you? Foolish.
    We already know who they are - the top echelons of finance, government, industry, media, security. It's a transnational planning group par excellence, and you can read all about them in Kees van der Pijl's 'The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class', and 'Transnational Classes and International Relations'.

    You can read a copy of the first book here http://www.theglobalsite.ac.uk/atlanticrulingclass/

  • jonnyboy71 jonnyboy71

    2 Jun 2010, 1:37PM

    I don't care about this, it's just a big boys' club........

    Which is why it's in Sitges - it's a big boys' playground. For boys. Who are big.

    Don't worry Charlie, they'll leave off their scheming as soon as Glee comes on to TV2.

  • ourman ourman

    2 Jun 2010, 1:37PM

    SouthgatesNose

    Last year's coverage was brilliant. But agreed it didn't get good until the jokes stopped.

    I seem to recall that last time Charlie kept asking why he was the only one covering this. Something, it appears, hasn't changed. Kudos to the Guardian for sending Charlie again but why not send some serious hacks with him too?

  • Autonova1 Autonova1

    2 Jun 2010, 2:01PM

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  • faddamplus faddamplus

    2 Jun 2010, 2:09PM

    Sorry I can't be there in person Charlie. It'd be nice to see if we can all do our bit to try and get this issue kicked into the domain of the mainstream media. Much respect to you Charlie, and the Guardian, for rolling this out with fanfare this time around. It's so difficult to know what to believe nowadays.

    It's quite easy to get swept along with all this and yearn for some kind of narrative, a grand conspiracy if you like, to make the world make some sense. It's easier still to dismiss this, brand it "drivel" and sweep it under the carpet. Cold, hard analysis in accordance with the facts are what is needed and I hope this whole issue gets the exposure it deserves.

    Over the course of the last two years I've felt torn in knowing what to think about it all. I really do hope that it's all just benign, nothing to worry about. But then I see alot of the forecasts predicted by those immersed in conspiracy theory turning out to be accurate. I've done my own research on American Financial History and the Federal Reserve, successive White House Administrations, the policies and the strategies involved. It's concerning. This whole issue needs to kicked into the public domain. If just to stop paranoid people like me going on about it.

  • barciad barciad

    2 Jun 2010, 2:23PM

    Question, when do we find out when and where one of these little sessions is taking place? I'd love to try and stick my neck round, offer a few suggestions.

  • feline1973 feline1973

    2 Jun 2010, 3:08PM

    Lynn: idea for a show - "Pimp My Plutocrat". Gok Kwan and some leggy bird with nice tits attend the Bilderberg Conference to see if they can put a bit more panache into the planet's puppateers.

  • Pat1968 Pat1968

    2 Jun 2010, 3:14PM

    @faddamplus

    " I've done my own research on American Financial History and the Federal Reserve, successive White House Administrations, the policies and the strategies involved. It's concerning. This whole issue needs to kicked into the public domain. If just to stop paranoid people like me going on about it."

    I used to be into this conspiracy stuff in the early 90's and would avidly read 'The Spotlight' and even attended a David Icke event in Central London once (pre-Lizard days). There was too much chaff and not enough wheat for my liking. And I was just meeting too many people who, after spending an hour explaining the Elite adgenda, would burst my ballon with variations of, "....It's all controlled by the Jews, you know".

    In the end I concluded that the "Global Elite" were just as in the dark as the rest of us and made it up as they went along.

    Still, it's enormous fun and a ripping yarn (hence the success of the Da Vinci Code).

  • gorazdi gorazdi

    2 Jun 2010, 3:26PM

    Ignore the quasi homphobic asides and miis opportunity for a jolly,
    Time for some investigative jounalism.Ken Clarke and duming igh tar brands aid for Gaza not Goldmans

    I doubt the real players Obama Al Qaeda Hu Jintao or Lula will e there just a load of white rich hags and their lackeys and the last of uropes sycophantic toyals

    Sitges is ok if you like twee tourist traps

  • snix snix

    2 Jun 2010, 3:47PM

    These criminals should be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity.The day is coming when the truth will be seen the emperors wear no clothes

  • faddamplus faddamplus

    2 Jun 2010, 3:54PM

    @Pat1968

    after spending an hour explaining the Elite adgenda, would burst my ballon with variations of, "....It's all controlled by the Jews, you know".
    In the end I concluded that the "Global Elite" were just as in the dark as the rest of us and made it up as they went along.
    Still, it's enormous fun and a ripping yarn (hence the success of the Da Vinci Code).

    Yeah, fair point well made. I don't have time for any anti-religious fervour either, and it does seem unlikely that every aspect of global society is controlled.

    Global events can be steered however, and a steering group is what I understand Bilderberg to be. All manner of chaotic, unforseen events can play out at a minor level, but when everyone on the top floor of the game is working together and in secret, then it would appear that a status quo can exist, one which serves to fufill or preserve an unknown agenda. Hopefully all that takes place within the walls is some kind of hideous swingers party with keys to the cities instead of cars lying in the fruitbowl.

    On second thoughts, the mental image of that alone could be more disturbing than anything else!

  • KingofWelshNoir KingofWelshNoir

    2 Jun 2010, 4:36PM

    Well done, Charlie. I heard you on the Today Programme this morning. First time ever I have heard a reference to the Bilderbergs on the BBC. Naturally Evan Davis had to play it as a joke item, but you stood your ground. I agree with the other commentators here about the humour. I seem to remember last year you came to mock but somehow by the end it didn’t seem so funny any more. If you could take it up where you left off last year that would be great.

  • casacantabria casacantabria

    2 Jun 2010, 4:59PM

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  • DaveSwift DaveSwift

    2 Jun 2010, 5:18PM

    Conspiracy theories are usually unbelievably boring, but this is less of a theory in that it definitely happens. Very intriguing and a great blog last year, hopefully having a camp of conspiracy theorist nuts, determined to a blow whistle on the New World Order won't hinder your efforts and dilute the fun of last years exposé. I disagree with other posters also, keeping it light is the best way to get it published and I thought you were pretty funny last year.

    Good luck and Im sad I missed it (was scared I'd be sharing a camp with the tin foil hat brigade, or some overtly intense pot smokers with chips on their shoulders determined to share boring unsubstantiated theory after unsubstantiated theory with me).

  • Chewtoy Chewtoy

    2 Jun 2010, 5:18PM

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  • Chewtoy Chewtoy

    2 Jun 2010, 5:29PM

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  • casacantabria casacantabria

    2 Jun 2010, 5:33PM

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  • casacantabria casacantabria

    2 Jun 2010, 5:34PM

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