The Artist was our quarterly competition where we searched for a new editorial artist for IdeasMag. Applications could come from artists, illustrators, designers, photographers – or anyone whose work could be represented with a single still image. The winner then produced a new, topical piece of work every week for three months and was paid £100 per image.
The opinions expressed in The Artist do not necessarily represent those of IdeasTap.
How to meet targets - 6 July 2015
Apparently we’ve all been wrong; child poverty has nothing to do with families on low incomes or parents struggling to make ends meet. According to Iain Duncan Smith a child can only be considered to be impoverished if they are doing badly in school and their parents are out of work. While it’s true children from low income families are less likely to achieve academically than their more affluent classmates and being unemployed doesn’t pay very well, this new definition is very narrow and does not account for working parents on low wages or the fact that some children do well at school despite financial difficulties at home. Great if you want it to look like you’ve done something about child poverty when you actually haven’t.
Not now David - 29 June 2015
I realise David Cameron thinks his EU reforms are important and that the subject needs to be discussed with the other political leaders, but bringing it up in the middle of a serious crisis which could destabilise both the EU and world economy is probably not the best time to do so.
Variations on Prejudice - 22 June 2015
I completely disagree with the notion that the social media reaction to Tim Hunt's "the trouble with girls" joke was "disproportionate" or "a feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness". Most of the activity on twitter involved the hash tag #distractinglysexy and was generally light-hearted mocking – and those that did get angry were not overreacting. The idea that women are unable to maintain professionalism due to some innate emotional incontinence is incredibly demeaning and in no way reflects the reality of women in the workplace. Furthermore it was clear from Hunt’s apology that the joke was based on his own opinions on the subject. I have no problem with those who have defended Tim Hunt based on their own experiences of his character and attitude to women – in fact I think it’s good that we know about the positive contributions he has made to gender equality. However, to paint him as the victim in this argument negates the shocking misogyny of the joke and highlights the fact that there are clearly a lot more people who believe women overreact to criticism.
Safer Britain Slide - 16 June 2015
I was pleased to hear about David Anderson's report on the current state of the anti-terrorism laws. I thought it was a step in the right direction with regards to balancing civil liberty and the need for national security. I particularly liked the suggestion that ministers should be stripped of the power to authorise surveillance as the approach to security taken by the current government does not make me confident of their ability to make the balanced decisions required of such a power.
After only one month of a Conservative majority I'm going to say something I didn't think I would ever say; I miss the Liberal Democrats. Had they formed a second coalition government they might have tempered George Osborne's ideological assault on public spending and the welfare state and I wouldn't be spending so much time dreaming about moving to Scotland.
David Cameron's European Charm Offensive - 1 June 2015
I would like to assure you there are UK citizens who like you and were really embarrassed last week by our Prime Minister’s ‘charm offensive’ push for EU reform. There are plenty of us who agree that you and EU immigrants are of huge benefit the UK and would like to forge more links with Europe not less. In fact there are more of us than there are euroskeptics; A recent poll found that although 35% of us wanted to leave the EU 42% of us wanted to stay. Incidentally 42% is also 6% more than the portion of the population that actually voted for the Conservatives and their stance on the EU in the first place so don't worry David Cameron does not speak for all of us.
Girls on Film - 26 May 2015
Recently there seems have been a lot of news stories highlighting sexism in the film industry. I’m glad that this subject has come to the media’s attention although it should have come sooner; underrepresentation of women in films is a very real problem. Research by the University of San Diego found that of the top grossing 100 films of 2013 only 15% of the protagonists and 29% of main characters were female while the Cinemetrics research website has shown than on average the female lead gets about half the screen time of her malecounterpart. Appalling when we make up half the population.
Just when you thought you were safe from his policies - 19 May 2015
Not content with his legacy as possibly the most hated Education Secretary ever, the newly appointed Justice Secretary Michael Gove is now attempting to scrap the Human Rights Act in favour of a British Bill of Rights. He cites the supposed need to prevent the European Court of Human Rights from dictating on how UK courts interpret the convention on human rights – but as the British courts only have to take into account the rulings of the ECHR there is no real need to change the current system. Unfortunately there's more to the bill than just limiting the powers of Europe; the bill limits the engagement of the Convention of Human Rights to "serious cases" without specifying exactly how "serious" is defined – meaning individuals seeking action to right genuine human rights infringements could see their cases thrown out of court for being too "trivial". In addition to this the new bill would only apply in the UK, meaning that any military action taken overseas would be not be accountable to UK human rights law. Truly terrifying.
Political Wipeout - 12 May 2015
Three party leaders gone after one election - that has got to be some kind of record! Still I actually don't think any of them should have resigned; I may dislike Nigel Farage and everything his party stands for but I can't deny his success in popularising their message and besides his opinions and policies are positively sensible when compared to those of some of his party members. Nick Clegg may have angered his voters by entering the coalition but with Vince Cable and Danny Alexander gone he is about the only Lib Dem left with actual governmental experience. Finally I don't think Ed Milliband is the failure he is made out to be; over all the party gained more votes than at the last election and outside of Scotland his party made a net gain in seats. More importantly with his emphasis on Democratic Socialism he reestablished Labour as the centre left party and gave voters a better choice of party than the Tory and 'Tory Light' we were used to.
Papyrophillia - 5 May 2015
OK David Cameron you've made your point. We all know the last Labour government was more than a little bit careless with the country's finances so please stop getting out that letter from the Treasury whenever you can. Apart from it being incredibly annoying to hear the words "I'm afraid theirs no money left" for the thousandth time it's not doing you any favours; it makes it seem like you'd rather drag up your opponent's past mistakes than actually engage in any meaningful debate on policy or the political problems facing our country today.
Good Riddance – 27 April 2015
So HSBC are considering moving their headquarters abroad citing post 2010 banking legislation as the main reason for the possible transfer. It's unlikely this announcement is going to endear the bank to anyone but their investors as two of the main pieces of legislation passed – the bank levy and the planned ring-fencing of money from retail banking – were specifically enacted to protect the money of retail customers and to prevent the risky borrowing practices that led to the credit crunch.
Where's Dave? - 20 April 2015
I wouldn't try looking for Dave because he's not in the picture. I don't know why you boycotted the second leaders debate David Cameron but the viewers were unimpressed. Still it could be worse; at least unlike Nick Clegg, people cared that you were missing.
Putting Russia First – 13 April 2015
I've actually been quite pleased with the coverage UKIP has been receiving this general election campaign because it seems whenever they are given airtime someone says something so catastrophically ignorant that people are starting to think twice about voting for them. Most recently UKIP's Diane James said that she admires Vladimir Putin because he is a "strong leader" who is "putting Russia first". So either she is unaware of the huge number of human rights abuses, curtails on civil liberties and international sanctions Russia has suffered under Putin's administration or she has a definition of putting your country first that is frankly quite scary.
Race for Number 10 – 6 April 2015
With the two main parties still neck and neck in the polls after last week's debate it still looks like there is going to be no outright winner in the General Election. Personally I'd really like to see a Labour/Conservative coalition; not only would it be really entertaining but by co-operating instead of slinging mud at each other they'd probably get so a lot more work done.
Political Grilling - 30 March 2015
So the election campaign has finally started with last week's Milliband vs Cameron TV interviews. The trouble is my lasting impression of the programme was not of the two candidates and their policies but of how formidable Jeremy Paxman is as an interviewer.
Alcohol Duty Cuts - 23 March 2015
So George Osborne, you've given us slightly cheaper beer, cider and whiskey? That doesn't distract from the fact that your new help to buy ISA only helps those who can afford to save get on the property ladder or that, apart from the top 10% of earners, the people most affected by your spending cuts are the poorest. It doesn't explain where your pledged £12 billion in welfare cuts are coming from or why you completely forgot to mention the NHS. And you said there were going to be "No Giveaways, no Gimmicks"
PR Video Tips for Party Leaders - 16 March 2015
I don't know why politicians feel the need to try and convince us that they are just like everyone else. With the salary for MPs set at £67,060 plus expenses, we know your houses our probably going to be bigger than most of ours. We also know that a third of you were privately-educated and I'm sure most of us would like to believe that you're too busy running the country to have much time for photo-op tea breaks and pub visits. OK so you're not "average" but that shouldn't matter if your policies make sense.
"SNP Landslide" - 9 March 2015
According to the latest figures, the SNP are likely to win the majority of the parliamentary seats in Scotland. Although its nice to see a party other than UKIP gaining political ground, I don't think its a good idea for a party whose main concern is one particular geographic area of the UK to have such a sizable say in the governing of the whole country. Also, with most of their predicted seats won from Labour, a vote for the SNP has the unfortunate side effect of making it easier for the Conservatives to stay in power. Scotland, however you vote on May the 7th is your own business and I fully support whatever choice you make, but I would ask that you consider the effect your votes have on the rest of us as part of your decision.
"Great Britain?" - 1 March 2015
With a general election coming up I thought I'd address the issue of the EU. In the interests of fairness there are many other statistical comparisons I could have made between the UK and the EU, some of which reflect really well on Britain. But that doesn't change my point; we aren't a powerhouse country being dragged down by the continent. We are an EU nation with good and bad points like any other. Also with a total of 11 countries with greater total social protection expenditure per person than the UK I find it hard to imagine many immigrants being attracted by the UK's "generous" welfare system.
"For Your Eyes" - 23 February 2015
GCHQ and the NSA have been accused of stealing SIM card encryption keys that allow them to hack mobile phones and eavesdrop on private conversations. GCHQ maintains that their actions were “necessary and proportionate”. But, as the civil liberty infringements and human rights abuses of the "War on Terror" have shown, the government can pretty much "justify" anything in the name of national security.
"UKIP State of Mind" - 16 February 2015
This was my favourite quote from Nigel Farage's pre-election speech. It's also about the only thing he said that I agree with. Although I don't think that state of mind is "a positive affirmation that we need different people in politics and different policies for this country". UKIP's popularity has less to do with a desire to put right real problems with our political system, and more to do with humanity's propensity to listen to charismatic people and blame outsiders for our problems.
Rapid Response Force - 9 February 2015
Really NATO? You are going to put rapid in the name of your new response force? The Ukrainian crisis has been going on for over a year now!
The measure of a man, apparently - 2 February 2015
With the publication of the latest GCSE results, I wonder why the government's putting so much emphasis on exam achievement as a measure of a success. Academic qualifications may be important for getting on some career paths but not all and they don't measure the qualities and attitudes that make an individual do well and become a good person. Personally I'd consider a school a success if it produced confident, happy young people with a respect for others. But I guess that's less easy to quantify than exam grades.
Acceptable in Print? - 26 January 2015
Dear Page 3,
The campaign against you is neither prudish nor infringes upon the rights of your models to express themselves. I have no problem with women who want to be glamour models. Or people who want to look at their pictures; if that’s what makes you happy then that’s fine with me. I just don’t think that a national newspaper, with readers of both genders and no age restrictions on its purchase, is an appropriate place for such images.
Oh The Irony - 19 January 2015
This week Nick Clegg spoke out on the subject of Cameron’s refusal to take part in the televised political debates. "I hope the broadcasters develop a bit of backbone on this, as they shouldn't be bullied by the Conservatives throwing their weight around," said the Deputy Prime Minister, apparently forgetting that is exactly what he has not done over the last five years of coalition government.
A Balanced Political Diet - 12 January 2015
It’s not often that I agree with David Cameron but on this particular issue I do. Not only would including the Green Party bring a better balance of left and right to the debate but party has already shown substantial support from voters; they have had an elected MP since the 2010 general election, which is much longer than UKIP. Also, recent polls show the Greens currently have more support than the Lib Dems. Surely that alone is grounds for inclusion.
Martian Memory Problems - 5 January 2015
Apparently even NASA Mars rovers begin to forget things as they get older; the 10-year-old Opportunity has been losing its recent data when it powers down. I was a little disappointed when NASA said they had found a solution to the problem though, as the idea of a forgetful robot really made me smile.
Russian Battleships - 15 December 2014
In the last few months there has been an increase in Russian air and naval activity in the Baltic, as well as a couple of unknown submarine sightings, resulting in NATO-assisted submarine hunts that didn't find anything. With Russia keeping quiet, the situation made me think of a really unfair game of battleships.
The Property Ladder - 8 December 2014
George Osborne, what were you thinking when you cut stamp duty for houses under £925,000? You’ve not helped struggling people to get on the property ladder, because the cuts only affect houses above £125,000. Even with a £25,000 deposit, an individual borrowing at the average 3.22 loan-to-income ratio for a mortgage would have to earn more than £31,000 to get mortgage for a house that qualifies for the reductions. Even those who can afford such houses are no better off as a lot of the sellers have increased their prices in line with the new system. Congratulations – you just made it easier to stay on the property ladder!
The NHS Waiting Game - 1 December 2014
There were a lot of stories this week about the NHS in crisis; most seemed to centre on the problem of long waiting times. By the end of the week the situation was looking slightly more optimistic with the major political parties all promising extra funding after the general election but I'm not sure they're going far enough. My prescription for the next year: on top of the funding, give NHS staff more manageable hours and hire more staff for each shift.