Thursday. 12/12/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

No good outcome

The UK goes to the polls today and a victory for Boris Johnson’s Conservative party seems inevitable. It’s just the scale of the triumph that remains unclear. How many traditional working-class neighbourhoods will turn Tory blue on the election map? Will the Tories hold on to the Scottish seats they gained in 2017 or will a resurgent Scottish National party crush them?

One thing is clear: it’s been pitiful watching the party leaders in action. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has failed to settle the anti-Semitism issue in his party, looks worn out and his outlandish spending promises have failed to resonate with the public. Johnson (pictured), meanwhile, has shown himself to be a man uncomfortable with answering a straight question and the party’s campaign only has one big idea: “get Brexit done”. And the Liberal Democrats leader, Jo Swinson, has frittered away her popularity because of her complicated take on Brexit and a manifesto that failed to inspire debate.

That’s why this election is one where voter loyalty is set to fray; many at the centre of politics will look at the ballot paper and decide none of the above. The only good thing is that failure at the polls will force the losers to get their houses in order.

Finance / Europe

Divine intervention

The European Central Bank’s new president, Christine Lagarde, will hold her first official monetary policy meeting today, with investors and governments watching closely to parse her plans for the world’s second-biggest economy. It’s a big test. Although Lagarde (pictured) has headed up the IMF and served as France’s finance minister, some are sceptical of her credentials: she lacks any economics training or central-bank experience and has publicly admitted a hatred of maths. Instead of dictating the finer aspects of policy, it’s believed that she will aim to find common ground on difficult issues such as the environment. She has said that she hopes to be a wise owl – rather than the traditional hawk or dove – in the style of a leader she is known to admire: Pope Francis.

Media / Global

Loss for words

China is back in first place when it comes to locking up journalists. Beijing has wrested the ignominious title from Turkey, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The New York-based NGO’s annual report, released this week, reveals that at least 250 reporters have been locked up around the world in 2019 just for doing their jobs.

Although the overall number is trending downwards, there has been a sharp increase in the number of reporters imprisoned under so-called fake-news legislation, which can often be a way for repressive governments to criminalise criticism and dissent; Russia and Singapore joined the club this year. But it’s not all bad news: the government in neighbouring Malaysia followed through on a campaign promise to scrap similar laws brought in by the previous administration of disgraced prime minister Najib Razak.

Urbanism / Vancouver

In the bunker

Vancouver’s Park Board has announced that it will carry out public consultations in 2020, on what to do with its three public golf greens. Critics of the courses say that new parks or affordable-housing complexes – where up to 60,000 residents could be accommodated – are better uses for the land. The move is the latest chapter in the decline of public golf courses in Canada’s cities: 51 were closed across the country between 2015 and 2018. But some advocates warn that city greens are still a valuable resource, particularly for many older residents, for whom the courses are as much a social forum as a sporting one. In a city such as Vancouver, however, where open space is at a premium, the transformation of its golf courses could well serve as a hole-in-one for advocates seeking to ensure that the city, in its moment of growth, is open to everyone.

Retail / Berlin

Department of transformation

Retailers are struggling the world over but the likes of Berlin’s KaDeWe prove that, when done right, there’s still a place for department stores. The Kaufhaus des Westens, as it was called when it opened in 1907, introduced the German capital to exotic fruit and couture fashion – and rather than resting on its laurels, it has continued to evolve. In 2015 it introduced an ambitious transformation led by Dutch architecture firm OMA, in a series of ongoing projects. This week it inaugurated a new “Luxury Boulevard” featuring the likes of Louis Vuitton and Rolex, a “Home Atelier” for interiors and design and an upgraded food hall on the sixth floor that will remain open for late-night diners. It’s another way to keep shoppers engaged and offer experiences that e-commerce simply cannot compete with.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Fender

After working at Nike and Disney, Andy Mooney joined Fender in 2015, becoming the first CEO of the US heritage guitar brand to actually play the instrument. He now oversees the relaunch of Fender’s iconic models and the company’s digital growth.

Monocle Films / Adidas x Monocle

Explore your city

We put our best foot forward on a morning run in Munich as we unpack our shoe collaboration with Adidas. What do you think about when you think about running?

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