|Member of Parliament
for Ilford South
9 April 1992
|Preceded by||Neil Thorne|
4 September 1952 |
Snaresbrook, Essex, England
|Political party||Labour Co-operative|
|Alma mater||Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Mike Gapes was born in Wanstead Hospital in what became the London Borough of Redbridge, the son of a postman, and educated locally at the Staples Road Infants' School in Loughton and the Manford County Primary School in Chigwell, before attending the Buckhurst Hill County High School. He continued his studies at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge where he was awarded a master's degree in economics in 1975; he also served as the secretary of the university's students' union in 1973. He completed his education at the Middlesex Polytechnic in Enfield where he earned a diploma in industrial relations in 1976.
Gapes was a founder member of the Clause Four Group and the sixth Chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students from 1976 to 1977, taking over following the defeat of the entryist Trotskyist Militant tendency.
Except for a spell as a VSO teacher in Swaziland in a gap year before attending university in 1972, and a few months working as an administrator at the Middlesex Hospital in 1976, he has worked entirely in full-time politics either for the Labour Party or as an elected Member of Parliament. He was national student organiser of the Labour Party in the late 1970s, taking over from Barry Clarke. He contested Ilford North at the 1983 General Election but was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Vivian Bendall by some 11,201 votes. He was elected to the House of Commons at the 1992 General Election for Ilford South when he ousted the sitting Conservative MP Neil Thorne by just 402 votes and has remained the MP there since. He made his maiden speech on 8 May 1992.
In Parliament he joined the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in 1992 and after the 1997 General Election he was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office Paul Murphy and also worked for the other Minister of State Adam Ingram until 1999 when he joined the defence select committee. Following the 2001 General Election he was again appointed a PPS to the Minister of State at the Home Office Jeff Rooker for a year. He rejoined the defence select committee in 2003 and since the 2005 General Election he has served as the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, the most senior position in international affairs in British politics outside the Government.
He has been an officer of many all party Parliamentary Groups, he is currently Chairman of the All Party Crossrail Group, a former chairman of the United Nations group and a former Vice chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. He was part of the Northern Ireland team which negotiated the Belfast Agreement in Belfast in 1998. He has travelled widely on parliamentary business including to Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Japan, Korea, Russia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Angola, and Sierra Leone.
During the 2001 and 2005 General Election campaigns, he was the target of some Muslim groups seeking to unseat him because of his alleged anti-Muslim bias. However, other Muslims attacked these groups as "extremists", and they seem to have had little effect on his majority.
He is very pro-European Union once declaring that he would prefer closer ties rather than Britain becoming an amusement park for American and Japanese tourists. Mr Gapes introduced 36 amendments to the EU Referendum Bill of 2013. The bill's proposer, James Wharton, alleged that the amendments were an attempt to use up the Parliamentary time allocated to the bill and prevent its being passed.
Gapes is a keen supporter of West Ham United F.C.