On the sun-drenched patio of the Marriott Hotel in Copenhagen sat the chancellor of the exchequer. He sat quietly and listened carefully as a distinguished older gentleman gave him what appeared to be an intense and barely-interrupted 25 minute briefing. George Osborne sat and listened, while we stood and watched.
The body language was fascinating. George was tense, leaning in, petitioning. The man opposite was physically relaxed but full of gestures and explanations. George was there to listen hard and get up to speed. Apart from a two-minute speech at the end, he opened his lips barely a dozen times, and half of those were simply to have a sip of his fruit punch.
The gentleman with his back to us, slouching comfortably in his chair, is an important, extremely well connected, but not very well known individual: Sir John Kerr. Otherwise known as Baron Kerr of Kinlochard. The current vice-chairman of Scottish Power.
At Bilderberg, Sir John always seems to be at the centre of things: when Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands emerges onto the patio, it’s Sir John who leads her out. When no one else will have a drink with Richard Perle, Sir John steps up:
Patting shoulders, pressing the flesh, ushering people together: Bilderberg is his domain. Sir John is a member of the Bilderberg Group’s inner circle – the steering committee – and probably its heaviest smoker. The only thing with more tar in it than Sir John’s lungs is Peter Thiel’s hair.