|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
Early life and career
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 is a keen supporter of West Ham United F.C.
Mike Gapes worked as a VSO teacher in Swaziland in a gap year before attending university in 1972, and a few months working as an administrator for the National Health Service at the Middlesex Hospital in 1976.
Mike Gapes worked at Labour Party Headquarters for 15 years from 1977 until 1992 including serving from 1988 to 1992 as International Secretary of the Labour Party, and prior to that as a Policy Research Officer.
He 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 from Barry Clarke following the defeat of the entryist Trotskyist Militant tendency.
Mike Gapes was a member of the Labour Party's National Policy Forum and Joint Policy Committee 1996-2005; Chair of the Co-operative Party's Parliamentary Group 2000-01, and Trade union liaison officer for the London Group of Labour MPs 2001-05.
Parliamentary Candidate for Ilford North
Member of Parliament for Ilford South
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 including Association of Ilford Muslims, Islamic Society of Britain (Ilford Branch) and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK who sought to unseat him because of his alleged anti-Muslim bias. However, mainstream Muslims attacked these groups as "extremists", and they seem to have had little effect on his majority.
Mike Gapes 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 responded to allegations of filibustering by saying: "The important point is this: my amendments expose the Bill’s inadequacy and need for proper consideration and scrutiny."
Mike Gapes is a long standing friend of Kurdish people. In the 2012-13 session of Parliament he signed an early day motion (EDM) for the Recognition of the Kurdish Genocide. In November 2013 Gapes visited the Kurdistan region with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan. In June 2014, he defended the policy of humanitarian intervention to protect the Kurdish people in Iraq pursued by successive governments and called for the coalition government to support Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In August he called for a recall of Parliament to authorise military support for Iraq. Later that year in November, Mike Gapes co-authored an open letter to the Labour Party’s base urging a significant increase its support to the Kurds to defend themselves against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Mike Gapes is an outspoken critic of the UK Independence Party. In April 2010 Gapes responded to news that Paul Wiffen, the then London Chairman of UKIP and a parliamentary candidate for Ilford South been reinstated after posting racist remarks on a social care website by saying "There is an unpleasant whiff about Mr Wiffen.". He further criticised the conduct of Mr. Wiffen saying: "Ilford did not need BNP-style extremism".
In April 2014 Mike Gapes claimed on his website that UKIP’s posters were racist. In May 2014, Jeremy Zeid, a twitter user describing himself as chairman of UKIP in Harrow tweeted gapes saying “Mike Gapes is so busy being “right on” he is either blind to or deliberately complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Ilford.” Mr Zeid tweeted the comments while visiting UKIP MEP Gerard Batten at his office in Ilford.
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