Friday 29 July 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 29/7/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Jason Larkin

Opinion / David Hodari

Better in than out

I was eating dinner in London’s Soho with a friend who runs operations for a chain of restaurants. It wasn’t haute cuisine but the establishment we were in had inspired rave reviews from the city’s dinnerati. Our enthusiastic but chaotic young waiter maintained a vaguely threatening presence near our table, coming over every couple of minutes to offer his assistance (were we ready to order? Had we finished our main courses?). The subpar experience prompted my friend to vent about the nightmares of finding staff after the pandemic and Brexit. “The British think that they’re too good for service jobs,” he said. “And if you tell people who will do them to ‘go home’ enough times, they eventually will.”

The arguments around Brexit are well documented. Added to those are inflation, the war in Ukraine and supply-chain snarl-ups that are simultaneously raising the cost of living and limiting our ability to move cargo and ourselves between countries. All of this has brought into focus a problem that has been brewing in the world’s wealthiest countries for a generation – even as responses wildly differ. This week, Portugal’s government moved to relax visa restrictions for fellow Lusophone countries, while Germany is reforming its immigration system to ease its worker shortage. Japan, however, continues to suffer from an ageing yet historically immigration-averse population.

Without immigration, we’re all heading in Japan’s direction. UK census data shows that there are now more people aged 65 and over in England and Wales than children under the age of 15. Despite this, the contenders to be the UK’s next prime minister seem resolutely anti-immigration, echoing the political debate that has been seen in both France and the US in recent years. They should instead be making a positive case for the more considered and systematic immigration policy that’s clearly needed. Wealthy nations face a stark choice. Following the lead of Portugal and Germany by becoming more hospitable to foreigners would be a good place to start.

David Hodari is Monocle’s business editor.

Image: Getty Images

Elections / Kenya

History of violence

Kenyans head to the polls on 9 August in one of the country’s most unpredictable presidential races. The frontrunners are former prime minister Raila Odinga (pictured), backed by current president Uhuru Kenyatta, and deputy president William Ruto. The cost of living seems to be the major policy issue. Perhaps more importantly, Kenya is eager to avoid the violence that has followed recent election cycles – some 1,200 people were killed after the 2007 contest.

“Historically, Odinga and Kenyatta were on opposing sides,” says journalist Dominic Kirui. Their alliance this time, along with lessons learned from past episodes of political violence, might help to maintain calm. But with fuel prices at record levels and the cost of basic items such as maize flour increasing too, Kirui says that there’s suspense and uncertainty in the air. Kenya will be holding its breath on election day – and in the days and weeks that follow.

For more from Dominic Kirui, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Consiglio Manni

Fashion / Italy

Hit the road

While new products for the home dominated the offerings of international furniture brands and architects at June’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, fashion label Tod’s looked to the streets. The brand, best known for its driving loafers and fine leather goods, teamed up with Colnago, a top-tier Italian heritage company that makes bikes to compete in elite cycling tours. The special-edition T Bike (pictured), of which only 70 are available, is designed for urban riding enthusiasts and fashion aficionados alike.

The two-wheeler has also been deployed in promotional material for special-edition versions of Tod’s shoes and clothes, overseen by the label’s creative director, Walter Chiapponi. Sporty iterations of the Tab’s trainer and two-tone windbreakers are now available in a range of sprightly colours created to work perfectly with the T Bike. The vehicle itself comes in a traditional racing green and vibrant orange, which is sure to get you plenty of attention on city streets and country roads this summer.

For more on Tod’s new cycling collaboration, grab a copy of our summer newspaper ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’, on newsstands today.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Chile

Book smart

Bestseller lists are typically reserved for the likes of Sally Rooney, queen of millennial angst, or the latest Stephen King spookfest. So you would be forgiven for doubting the chances of a meaty constitutional text. But that’s what is flying off the shelves in Chile. As the country prepares to approve or reject a new constitution in a referendum on 4 September – part of a larger reform process that stems from longstanding social and economic grievances – the draft (pictured) is being eagerly consumed by the populace.

Although the text is free to download, that hasn’t stopped it from topping the country’s non-fiction list, compiled by El Mercurio newspaper. The original print run from publisher LOM was just 1,000; 80,000 copies are expected to have been sold by the end of this week. It’s a good example of people engaging in politics and, for once, reading the small print.

Image: Alamy

Society / Spain

Minding their language

Spain plans to ask the European Parliament to allow the use of Catalan in the chamber, which would mark the first addition of a regional language to the 24 official languages currently in use. Adding a 25th would result in further translation requirements but Catalonian national parties argue that their region has a higher population than a number of EU countries, including Denmark, Croatia and Slovenia, whose national languages are used in the parliament.

Within Spain, the proposal is seen as an olive branch from the national government after years of tension with Catalonia; Madrid has also said that it will make similar requests for Spain’s other regional languages, Basque and Galician, if the communities’ representatives ask for it. Unanimous approval is needed from member states in the EU Council but, if Spain’s request is successful, European Parliament translators might have their work cut out.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

David Trimble

Former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party David Trimble has died at the age of 77. Andrew Mueller explains how he helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland in 1998.

Monocle Films / Athens

Meet Europe’s first chief heat officer

Athens is the hottest capital city in mainland Europe and temperatures continue to rise. That’s why Eleni Myrivili was appointed as the city’s – and continent’s – first chief heat officer last summer. We meet her on Philoppapou hill to hear about how urban design can help to build resilience against rising temperatures.


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