Weaving down the alp came the Bilderbus, taking delegates on a whistlestop tour of the Tyrol. Buzzing along above it, at a crazy height, was its helicopter escort. I swear I could have bounced a euro off the roof of the coach and into the blades. If I’d wanted to have been dropped by an NSA sniper.
In the coach below it must have been like being in a washing machine. No wonder the delegates on board looked grumpy. Sitting up front, Jessica T Mathews had a face like thunder. Although maybe the cause of her headache wasn’t the helicopter, but rather the howling contradiction of being on the steering committee of the world’s most secretive policy summit and also on the advisory council of Transparency International USA.
Also on the bus was James Wolfensohn. A fellow member of TI-USA’s advisory council, Wolfensohn was the joint winner of their 2014 “integrity award”, an honour he shared with that other famous transparency campaigner, and the world’s fourth-biggest arms company, Raytheon. Previous winners of the integrity award include (and I kid you not) Coca-Cola, General Electric and the then secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The great email deleter herself. I think someone should tell TI-USA what “transparency” means. There may have been a mix-up somewhere down the line.
When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as “globalisation” and “current economic issues”, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).