Bilderberg 2011: For he's a jolly good Rockefeller
Just when you thought the annual four-day Bilderberg conference couldn't get any more exciting, a policeman goes and finds a bomb. Or at least, he went and found a "tubular device" that at certain angles, if you squinted a bit, looked sort of like a bomb. By that well known bomb manufacturer – Pringles.
One of the two men arrested at Bilderberg. Photograph: Adrian Gatton
All of a sudden the shout went up, out came the handcuffs, and two men (that nobody recognized) were bustled into custody. We're still trying to find out who they were or what they're charged with. Ownership of a tubular device is still frowned on in Switzerland. That's why Toblerone is shaped like that.
In light of this new tubular threat patrols were stepped up, sniffer dogs began sniffing about, and everyone was moved a bit further back from the hotel. Although it must have been a fairly mild scare, because soon enough the first delegates came zooming through the hotel gates in their limos.
Rush hour at Bilderberg as the Steering Committee gathers. Photograph: Charlie Skelton/guardian.co.uk
Bilderberg's favourite power couple were spotted: Henry Kravis, head of private equity giant KKR (assets $60 billion) and his wife, Marie-Josée (Hudson Institute; International Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve). Then in swept Washington's hawkish 'Prince of Darkness', Richard Perle (Hudson Institute; PNAC; Hollinger; former Gaddafi adviser – etc. etc. etc.).
We had the usual peekaboo hidings, and impenetrable black windows, but we also got a couple of happy backseat grins. This fellow can't believe his luck:
Yay! Wooo! I'm off to a conference! Photograph: Hannah Borno
Around teatime, a massive helicopter flew up the valley, and landed at the tiny local airport. It was one of the few arrivals there today, due to bad weather. A couple of private jets did make it in; their passengers were whisked off the tarmac, straight out of the gates. Not a passport shown, a bag searched, or a body scanned. "All arranged in advance," we were told. I must remember to arrange that in advance the next time I go on holiday. Such a timesaver.
Best moment of the day was the arrival of everyone's favourite Bilderberger, Papa Bear himself – the undisputed King of the Club – David Rockefeller.
The big Swiss cheese: David Rockefeller arrives at Bilderberg 2011. Photograph: Freemanfriend
Doesn't he look cute? Although it's a bit naughty of him, going out and about in daylight like that. He knows it's bad for him.
Thank heavens the bomb scare was a false alarm; an explosion would have soured the build up to Rockefeller's birthday celebrations. David turns 96 on Sunday, but honestly, he doesn't look a day over 137.
Spry little David is the last surviving grandson of John D. It was Granddad Rockefeller who famously declared competition a sin, and built one of the world's great fortunes. It was Granddad Rockefeller who warned his Bible class: "Every downfall is traceable directly or indirectly to the victim's good fellowship" – and solemnly advised them: "Don't be a good fellow."
But young David couldn't live like that. His whole life long he's tried to spread his money where it will do most good. Like in 1961, when he approved a $10,000,000 Chase Manhattan loan to prop up the apartheid economy. Even then, that generosity wasn't quite enough, so two years later his bank joined with a number of other financial institutions to extend the South African regime $40,000,000 more in credit.
Of course, as David himself has said: "We cannot be idealistic. Capital must be invested in countries which have the political stability to guarantee a fair deal for the businessman." And with his ping-pong partner, Henry Kissinger, the master of realpolitik (and the topspin backhand) at his side on Bilderberg's top table, it is hard to imagine much 'idealism' pervading the group. Beyond the heartwarming goal of guaranteeing a fair deal for the businessman.
Which would be all be fine and dandy if the Bilderberg attendees didn't include quite so many elected officials. Our own chancellor, George Osborne, was a serial attendee (2006-2009); our own prime minister, David Cameron, sat through the seminars in 2008 before taking office. And don't forget Tony Blair attended. Not that he likes to admit it (he preferred lying to parliament about not going).
Breaking news: George Osborne MP is on this year's attendee list, which has just been published by a Swiss news agency. So too is Peter Mandelson. More on this shortly.
Politicians from the host country are usually pretty thick on the ground, so it was no surprise to see the stately arrival of Barbara Janom Steiner, head of the justice department of the local Swiss canton.
The politicians get to rub shoulders and polish policies with Bilderberg businessmen like W Edmund Clarke, President & CEO of Canada's second largest bank, Toronto-Dominion (total assets in 2010: 619.5 billion Canadian Dollars), and member of the conference Steering Committee. Clark's plane into San Moritz was delayed due to bad weather, we were told. Poor W Edmund Clark. He missed Etienne Davignon's 'golden oldies' movie quiz (3pm in the sun lounge).
Davignon was one of the early arrivals. The rumour on the hill is that he's about to be replaced as Honorary Chairman of Bilderberg (sorry if you're reading this, Etienne, I hope I haven't spoiled your weekend). There was talk of Josef Ackermann, the head of Deutsche Bank, taking over, but Ackermann's hopes have been dented somewhat by recent accusations of an involvement in dirty slush funds. Not that anyone at Bilderberg is dirty. I mean, hardly any of them are wanted for war crimes. People don't stress that enough.