Tuesday 2 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 2/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Man in the middle: Robert F Kennedy Jr

Image: Reuters

Politics / Christopher Lord

Rocking the vote

“Our campaign is a spoiler all right,” said Robert F Kennedy Jr to a crowd of flag-waving, badge-wearing supporters in Oakland, California, when he announced his running mate for his presidential campaign last week. Third-party candidates do not get elected in the US but they do have a record of syphoning off votes and upsetting the apple cart for the establishment. It's not yet clear which of the two main parties he might hurt the most. Kennedy has travelled down the West Coast over the past week, railing against “big pharma, big ag” and their co-conspirators in the media, while also promising to help “America to heal”. Kennedy’s detractors say that he’s a conspiracy theorist and a crackpot, yet he has managed to whip up a modest movement of his own.

I was at the event in Oakland and spoke to several voters, from disaffected former Democrats to others had never been to a political rally before this. They all said that they showed up because Kennedy offers a message that they can swallow, even if it is a strange mix of vaccine scepticism and allegations of a rigged system, served to a soundtrack of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land.

Polls at this stage of the election are to be taken lightly, however there are numbers that suggest a three-way race could see Donald Trump extend his tenuous lead over Joe Biden. Some 15 per cent of polled Americans say they dislike both candidates and these voters are a force to be reckoned with. These are not undecided swing voters but rather those who feel that they no longer have a political home. Kennedy’s name might not even make it to the ballot in most states. “If that happened, I would feel that I’ve been failed as an American,” said one Californian voter as we left the Kennedy event in Oakland. “We are getting boxed out of another option, another way.”

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Sailing / France

Wind in the sales

France is betting big on sailing boats. Or rather, it’s betting on big sailing boats. While cruise liners are traditionally viewed as bad for the environment, the European nation thinks that there’s a growing gap in the market for large-scale vessels powered by sails; in fact, it wants to capture 30 per cent of this greener market in the long-term. France’s secretary of state for biodiversity and the sea, Hervé Berville, and industry and energy minister Roland Lescure have signed a “strategic agreement” and checked in on the early construction of the Orient Express Silenseas, a high-end, 220-metre-long cruiser that will become the world’s largest sailing ship. Set to launch in 2026, it has already been ordered by French multinational hospitality group, Accor. The boat has received €22m of government investment and is part of ambitious plans to decarbonise the industry. All of this might just put the wind in France’s sails.

Economy / Canada

Moving mountains

Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline is nearing completion this summer. The CA$34bn (€23.3bn) project has been under construction for more than 10 years. Oil began filling the pipeline earlier this month and, this week, the final segment connecting British Columbia is expected to be finished. Once completed, it will transport oil from Edmonton to the West Coast, where it will be shipped around the world and launch the country as one of the largest suppliers of crude oil in the world.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

According to analysts, Canada’s oil production is expected to increase by 10 per cent over the next year to about 5.3 million barrels per day, driven mostly by activity in Alberta’s contentious oil sands. However, the project has attracted criticism regarding its effect on the environment and violations of Indigenous land rights. It has faced court challenges, financial hurdles and even a government bailout when energy company Kinder Morgan threatened to abandon construction in 2018. Despite the headaches, it seems the Canadian government is finally seeing some light at the end of the pipeline.

Image: Tbilisi

Art / Georgia

Beyond borders

The Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) will take place next week at the Expo Georgia exhibition centre. The fair serves as a significant platform for emerging creatives and also helps to nurture its neighbouring nations’ art scenes. “Our mission is to cultivate a broader audience for artists, galleries and professionals in Georgia and beyond,” says its art director, Eric Schlosser. “We want to encourage professional skills in the region, as well as provide support for cross-border projects.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might have made life increasingly uncertain in this corner of the world but organisers don’t have plans to diverge from their mission. “As long as we have control, we will keep our agenda,” says Schlosser.

This year’s fair is set to welcome about 15,000 visitors. Alongside a programme of talks featuring local and international speakers, artworks will be on sale – including pieces by Georgian textile artists Mariana Chkonia and the late Tamaz Nutsubidze – with prices ranging from €300 to €300,000.

For more on the Tbilisi Art Fair and other agenda-setting stories on culture and the arts, pick up a copy of Monocle’s April issue, which is on sale now.

Beyond the Headlines

Q&A / Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold

Grape mind

Cape Town entrepreneur Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold is the founder of Destinate, an agency specialising in marketing tourism. Here, she tells Monocle about attracting visitors to South Africa’s vineyards and the country’s diverse hospitality offerings for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers.

How did you get into wine tourism?
Wine tourism was one of my first big projects. I was approached by Stellenbosch Wine Routes to start bringing tourism and wine closer together. In many regions, they were separate. That eventually led me to write South Africa’s first wine-tourism strategy. Though it is one of the country’s top five attractions, it has not been used proactively in the past to promote the nation’s image.

How do you make visitors see winery visits as a fundamental part of their holiday, rather than an add-on?
Wine regions are within close proximity to a lot of the major tourist attractions and wine tourism can be a wonderful add-on. But part of our strategy has been to encourage people to flip it around and stay in the wine regions and explore the bigger attractions such as Cape Town and Robben Island from there. We did a big campaign for Stellenbosch, encouraging visitors to do so and, consequently, the region’s tourist industry is experiencing a boom. We’ve seen a lot of guest houses and hotels cropping up in the wine region.

How do Destinate’s services help boost the rural economy?
We want visitors to do a deep dive into a destination when they arrive. We also want locals to show them the secrets; that’s a core part of our business. We prefer to work with smaller boutique properties that offer guests the opportunity to meet the owners or drink wine with the winemakers. People want delightful distractions and pleasures that they wouldn’t have as a normal traveller. There is a craving for that element of surprise.

For our full interview with Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, tune in to episode 641 of ‘The Entrepreneurs’ on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Radio / The Menu

A taste of Poland

This week we get a taste of Polish cuisine. We sit down with Ren Behan to discuss her new book, The Sweet Polish Kitchen. Also in the programme: Julia Lasica heads to the renowned Ognisko in London’s South Kensington to find out more about the historic restaurant. Plus: Mateusz Mazzini is in Warsaw to visit local wine bar Brac and learn about the emerging Polish wine industry.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00