Monday 2 September 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 2/9/2019

The Monocle Minute

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Opinion / Megan Gibson

All set?

It’s time to get ready. At least that’s the message behind a new £100m (€111m) UK government public-information campaign that kicks off today aimed at preparing Brits for a no-deal Brexit. The campaign, which reportedly marks the biggest government advert push since the Second World War, will include billboards, TV adverts and a shiny new website, all pushing the infuriatingly vague slogan “Get ready”.

Now this campaign could go either one of two ways. The first option would see the so-called information campaign dressing up a no-deal Brexit as a no-big-deal operation, minimising risk and addressing only the most insipid of concerns (think questions about driving abroad and queue lengths in airports). So the whole thing would be, in effect, useless. The second option would see the government get serious about warning Brits about how to prepare for real consequences, which could include, according to leaked official papers, shortages of medicines, food and fuel, as well as a recession and even civil unrest. But with just more than eight weeks left until 31 October, the current deadline when the UK is set to leave the EU, it’s hard to fathom how any business or individual could adequately guard prepare – no matter how much money was spent on billboards.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / India and Pakistan

Tipping point

Tensions in Kashmir remain high and the latest reports from the contested territory have done little to quell tensions between India and Pakistan. It is claimed that Indian troops have been detaining thousands of activists and politicians in the Himalayan region. As India’s decision to revoke Article 370 – the special status for the part of Kashmir that it administers – continues to reverberate, just how serious is the current situation? “There will be skirmishes, there will be shelling from both sides of the border and there will be casualties,” Sajjan Gohel, a visiting teacher in international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told The Briefing. “But concerns that this could turn into a full-blown nuclear conflict are off the mark.”

Image: Getty Images

Security / Hong Kong

Learning the lesson?

Hong Kong goes back to school this week but many parents will be denied the usual post-holiday sigh of relief. A class boycott begins today with students from secondary schools and universities skipping lessons to support anti-government protests. Hong Kong’s education secretary has called on parents to urge their children to stay in school – but there is no escaping the political divide. As playgrounds turn into battlegrounds, police officers and their families have come into the firing line: serving officers have expressed concerns about their children being picked on by classmates and even teachers. It’s a vastly different picture to when demonstrations began in June – during exams – when school students marched with their revision notes in hand. Three months later, students are threatening to escalate the boycott if the government doesn’t meet the protesters’ demands by Friday. Expect chief executive Carrie Lam to deliver a textbook (read: uncompromising) response.

Image: Burrard Group/Nexus

Urbanism / Seattle

Open-door policy

A partnership between a Vancouver-based property developer and one of Seattle’s largest support groups for homeless people could be a boon for cities with high numbers of citizens without a home. Burrard Group, which is currently constructing Seattle’s landmark Nexus condominium tower, has vowed to build 41 so-called “tiny houses”, one for each storey of the new tower. These are small detached temporary dwellings where homeless people can be housed while a permanent home is found for them. Their success rate is high: last year permanent accommodation was found for 70 per cent of Seattle’s tiny-house residents. In cities where demand for housing is high and homelessness appears an intractable issue, this proposal could well prove that meaningful solutions can be found through the joint efforts of seemingly opposing stakeholders.

Image: Alamy

Culture / Austria

Price to pay?

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) is suggesting that the right to pay in notes and coins – rather than by card – should be added to the Austrian constitution in the lead-up to this month’s election. The idea is garnering cross-party support in a country where cash is still considered king: a recent poll by ING bank shows that just 10 per cent of those surveyed could imagine a cashless future, compared to a European average of 22 per cent. There’s a realisation here that although electronic transactions are good for transparency and convenience, there’s a potential trade-off when it comes to privacy and a growing concern that an entirely cashless society could exclude vulnerable people without bank accounts. Compromise is key: thoughtlessly abandoning existing systems for hi-tech alternatives can leave unintended bills to foot.

M24 / Eureka


Alenka Repic is the founder of Kaaita, a Slovenian company that has placed its footwear in dozens of hotels across the world. Trained as an economist, Repic launched Kaaita in 2004 as a creative consultancy helping other companies on environmental issues. Over the years, the company has transformed into a boutique manufacturer making sustainable slippers. For this week’s programme, Guy De Launey went to Kaaita’s headquarters in Ljubljana.

Monocle Films / Global

The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways

Video didn’t kill the radio star and apartment-sharing apps haven’t scuppered our enduring need for hotels. It’s this sincere belief that proved to be the rallying cry for our latest book, which covers everything from hoteliers’ trade secrets to holiday recommendations.


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