Less than it seems?
Ken Clarke was summoned by the Speaker to make a statement this week on the so-called ‘ Bilderberg’ conference .The Bilderberg organisation exists for the purpose of holding meetings once a year in various countries to discuss world affairs. Each year around 140 decision makers and opinion formers —drawn from both sides of the Atlantic; from Europe including Turkey, and from the United States and Canada. (including the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank), attend. The invitees are drawn from the worlds of government, politics, academia, defence and journalism. Nobody attends representing any particular organisation to which they might belong. Clarke complained that he had never previously answered a question in the House of Commons on behalf of a private organisation for which the Government have no responsibility. The Bilderberg conference is somewhat secretive and draws the attention of conspiracy theorists, who claim that key decisions are made at this conference that affect us all but there is no transparency involved. Michael Meacher MP wondered why “the largest and most powerful lobbyists’ group in the western hemisphere—an anti-democratic cabal if ever there was one—should operate in conditions of utter blackout and complete secrecy”
Clarke was dismissive. He pointed out that the Bilderberg meeting does not make any decisions, nor does it pass any resolutions.
And Meacher’s colleague, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, also attended this year’s meeting, as did Lord Mandelson. So it embraces those who don’t have their hands on the levers of power too.
The Bilderberg group now publishes a list of all those who attend the meetings and the topics that are discussed. The topics on the agenda this year included “Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?”, “Africa’s challenges”, “Trends in medical research” and “Developments in the middle east”.
Less conspiracy, one feels, more a mini-Davos, under Chatham House rules, that doesn’t necessarily include ‘has been’ politicians.