Mike Gapes

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Mike Gapes
Official portrait of Mike Gapes crop 2.jpg
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
In office
19 July 2005 – 17 May 2010
Preceded by Donald Anderson
Succeeded by Richard Ottaway
Member of Parliament
for Ilford South
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Neil Thorne
Majority 31,647 (54.9%)
Personal details
Born (1952-09-04) 4 September 1952 (age 65)
Wanstead, Essex, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour Co-operative
Frances Smith (m. 1992–2004)
  • Rebecca Gapes (1993–2012)
  • 2 other daughters
Alma mater Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Middlesex Polytechnic
Website www.mikegapes.org

Michael John Gapes (born 4 September 1952) is a British Labour Co-operative politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ilford South since the 1992 general election.

Early life and career[edit]

Mike Gapes was born in Wanstead Hospital, the son of a postman, and a shop assistant, and educated at Staples Road Infants' School in Loughton and Manford County Primary School in Chigwell, before attending Buckhurst Hill County High School. He continued his studies at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a degree in economics in 1975; he also served as the secretary of the university's students' union in 1973. He completed his education at Middlesex Polytechnic in Enfield where he earned a diploma in industrial relations in 1976,[1] after which he served as chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students before 3 years as the student organiser for the Labour Party.[1] Gapes is a keen supporter of West Ham United F.C.

Mike Gapes worked as a Voluntary Service Overseas teacher in Swaziland in a gap year before attending university in 1972,[1] and for a few months as an administrator at Middlesex Hospital in 1976.

Personal life[edit]

He married Frances Smith in 1992.[1] They divorced in 2004. Their daughter Rebecca Gapes, died of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome in 2012, at the age of 19.[2][3] He has two adult step daughters .

Political career[edit]

Labour Party[edit]

Mike Gapes was a founder member and convenor of the Clause Four Group in 1974, 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. In 1977 he was appointed as the first National Student Organiser of the Labour Party.

He 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,[4][5] and prior to that as a Policy Research Officer.[6]

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.[7]

Parliamentary Candidate for Ilford North[edit]

He contested Ilford North at the 1983 General Election but was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Vivian Bendall by some 11,201 votes.

Member of Parliament for Ilford South[edit]

He was elected to the House of Commons at the 1992 General Election for Ilford South when he defeated the sitting Conservative MP Neil Thorne by just 402 votes. He has remained the MP there since then and made his maiden speech on 8 May 1992.[8]

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. Following the 2005 2005 General Election he served as the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee until 2010, the most senior position in international affairs in British politics outside the Government. He was re-elected at the 2010 General election but could not continue as Chair of the Select Committee because Labour lost the election . He was however re-elected to serve as a Labour member of the committee from 2010 to 2015, 2015–17, and after the 2017 General Election.

He has been an officer of many all party Parliamentary Groups, he is currently Chair of the All Party Crossrail Group, Chair of the Global Security and non Proliferation Group and Chair of the United Nations group . 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 Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, 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,[9] Islamic Society of Britain (Ilford Branch)[9] and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK[10] who sought to unseat him because of his alleged anti-Muslim bias.[9]

Political views[edit]

European Union[edit]

Mike Gapes has a high regard toward the 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.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13] He voted against triggering Article 50. In his election address in 2017 he pledged to be a strong pro European Labour voice in Parliament and to campaign for the UK to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union.


Gapes is a long-standing advocate of Kurdish human rights. In the 2012–13 session of Parliament he signed an early day motion (EDM) for the Recognition of the Kurdish Genocide.[14] In November 2013 Gapes visited the Kurdistan region with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan.[15] 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.[16] In August he called for a recall of Parliament to authorise military support for Iraq.[17] Later that year in November, Mike Gapes co-wrote 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 (ISIL).[18]

Gapes intended to vote for the UK becoming involved with the bombing of ISIL in Syria on 2 December 2015, but was in hospital after suffering chest pains at the time of the vote.[19][20]


Mike Gapes is a critic of the UK Independence Party. In April 2010 Gapes responded to news that Paul Wiffen, the then London Chairman of UKIP[21] 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.".[22] He further criticised the conduct of Mr. Wiffen saying: "Ilford did not need BNP-style extremism".[21]

In April 2014 Mike Gapes claimed on his website that UKIP’s posters were racist.[23][24]


Gapes belongs to the Labour Friends of Israel lobby group.[25]



  1. ^ a b c d "Candidate: Mike Gapes". Vote 2001. BBC News Online. 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Teenage daughter of Labour MP died of a heart attack in her university bedroom". Daily Mail. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "MP's daughter Rebecca Gapes, 19, died suddenly in Canterbury student house". Kent Online. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "30 years ago today, I started working for the Labour Party - LabourList". LabourList - Labour's biggest independent grassroots e-network. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Fall of the Berlin Wall: would Poland suffer, again? - Progress - News and debate from the progressive community". Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "Mike Gapes". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "DODS People". www.dodspeople.com. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 8 May 1992". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Jul 2001 (pt 2)". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  10. ^ http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/31495/muslim-groups-vicious-abuse-candidates
  11. ^ "Tories defend EU referendum plan amid Labour blocking efforts". 8 November 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  12. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (8 November 2013). "MPs debate the EU referendum bill: Politics live blog". Retrieved 17 June 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  13. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 08 Nov 2013 (pt 0001)". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "Early day motion 1172 - RECOGNITION OF THE KURDISH GENOCIDE". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Mike Gapes MP on trip to the Kurdistan Region - APPG Kurdistan". www.appgkurdistan.org.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  16. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 16 Jun 2014 (pt 0002)". www.publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  17. ^ "Parliament should be recalled to authorise military support for Iraq". www.newstatesman.com. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  18. ^ "Taking on 'the vilest fascism of our age' - Progress - News and debate from the progressive community". Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  19. ^ "Labour MP Gapes says he will rebel on Syria vote". BBC. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  20. ^ Ralph Blackburn (30 November 2015). "Ilford South MP Mike Gapes in hospital following emergency surgery". Ilford Recorder. Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "London chairman of Ukip suspended over racist remarks". 8 April 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  22. ^ "BBC News - London UKIP election candidate in racism row". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  23. ^ http://www.mikegapes.org.uk/why-i-say-ukip-posters-are-racist-
  24. ^ "Why I say Ukip posters are racist". www.newstatesman.com. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  25. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. 23 March 2018. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Neil Thorne
Member of Parliament
for Ilford South