Monday 24 June 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 24/6/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Poll position: Opposition leader Keir Starmer

Image: Reuters

Politics / Andrew Mueller

The UK’s Labour Party is set for a record election win – but it will need to make big decisions to meet the electorate’s expectations

This is the beginning of the second-last week of campaigning for the UK’s general election. Unless polls have misjudged to a degree unprecedented in psephological history, it is also the beginning of the second-last week of 14 years of Conservative government. And given that opposition leader Keir Starmer does not seem the type, unlike certain recent tenants of 10 Downing Street, to squander a colossal parliamentary majority through inane political folly or squalid personal failing, it might well fanfare a decade in power for Labour.

It might, therefore, be time to attempt optimism about this prospect. There have been many comparisons with the previous such rout: Labour’s landslide under Tony Blair in 1997, ending 11 years of Tory rule to the bumptious soundtrack of the resuscitated D:Ream hit “Things Can Only Get Better”. In 1997, this sentiment was, in truth, a reach. The Tories were tired, and voters tired of them, but things were actually not too shabby. The UK’s economy was booming; peace in Northern Ireland was imminent; the Cool Britannia phenomenon – though daft – denoted a confident, breezy swagger. Plus, a young person of modest means could buy a home in London (I was – and I did).

In 2024, “Things Can Only Get Better” seems a more literal statement. A case can be made that the UK’s worst five prime ministers have been its last five prime ministers. The self-inflicted wound of Brexit has diminished the country at home and abroad. There is generally, even by the Eeyore-ish standards of the British, a resigned sense that nothing works anymore and nobody is fixing it.

But a more optimistic electorate has expectations – and feels entitled to have them met. Labour are limbering up to clear an extremely low bar. But they should be held to a loftier standard, not least, you hope, by themselves.

Andrew Mueller is a Monocle contributing editor and the host of Monocle Radio’s ‘The Foreign Desk’. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Politics / Toronto

Toronto’s midtown election a litmus test for Trudeau’s future success

From the outside, a federal by-election in Toronto’s midtown might not seem as though it’s a particularly big deal. But today’s vote in Toronto-St Paul’s is being touted as a referendum on support for Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. The area has been a stronghold of the governing Liberal Party for decades but its popularity has dwindled after years of broken promises, high inflation and scandal. Many are calling for Trudeau to resign if his party doesn’t win, though pundits are doubtful that he would. “There is little to no chance,” Daniel Rubenson, political science professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, tells The Monocle Minute. “However, the polling numbers suggest that Trudeau, personally, has lost support across the spectrum.” Though the Liberal Party should prevail, the vote is a painful reminder that a leader who once captured hearts and minds of a nation is slipping into an unpopular position.

Screen time: Slovakia president Peter Pellegrini prepares for debate on RTVS

Image: Shutterstock

Media / Slovakia

Robert Fico’s populist government to replace Slovakia’s public broadcaster

Slovakia’s parliament has approved the government’s controversial plan to replace the country’s public broadcaster, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS). Pending presidential approval, legislative changes will take effect from July. RTVS’s name will be changed to Slovak Television and Radio (STVR) and significant changes will be made to how the broadcaster’s leadership is appointed. Under the plans, RTVS’s general director, Lubos Machaj, will be removed from his role and replaced with a nine-member council, selected by the nation’s culture minister and parliament.

Ever since last September’s election of populist prime minister Robert Fico, who was wounded by a gunman last month, increasing restrictions have been placed on everything from NGOs to the judiciary – and the government’s tightening hold on the media is part of a broader trend. “What we’re seeing is an ‘Orbanisation’ of the media landscape in Slovakia,” RTVS radio journalist Sona Weissová tells The Monocle Minute, a reference to Hungary’s prime minister and right-wing political strongman, Viktor Orbán. “Things are uncertain at the moment.”

Life’s a beach: Desa Kitsuné opens in Bali

Society / Global

French-Japanese lifestyle brand Maison Kistuné targets ambitious international expansion

Maison Kitsuné, the Japanese-inspired Parisian outfit whose fox logo emblazons everything from caps to cappuccinos worldwide, is continuing to invest in its global bricks-and-mortar success. Founded in 2002 by Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki, the brand Kitsuné has grown to include clothing lines, a music label and cafés. When it comes to the latter, there are currently 35 Café Kitsuné around the world, a figure that the company aims to increase to more than 100 over the next five years.

Its latest venture, Desa Kitsuné in Canggu, Bali, has been fitted out with a clothing shop, as well as its first-ever restaurant and club. Complete with a swimming pool, Desa Kitsuné entertains guests on loungers through the day and welcomes DJs and party goers through the night. Next up: a hotel?

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Joan Minder

In print / Issue 174

All in the timing

Monocle speaks with Swatch CEO Alain Villard, who tells us how the Swiss watchmaker pivoted from being perceived as little more than a children’s brand to holding pride of place in the modern horology market and the glass-front cabinets of seasoned collectors.

Subscribe to read the full article or log in to your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Monocle Radio / The Stack

Emanuele Farneti on ‘La Repubblica’ new men’s title ‘U’

We speak with Emanuele Farneti, editor in chief of all La Repubblica magazines: D, Door and the recently released men’s title U. Also on the programme: Sterling Crawford from new culture and global affairs title Stall and Angelina Sisca from Swiss title Zeitung.


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