Mike Gapes

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Mike Gapes
File:Mike Gapes MP.JPG
Member of Parliament
for Ilford South
Assumed office
9 April 1992
Preceded by Neil Thorne
Majority 11,297 (22.1%)
Personal details
Born (1952-09-04) 4 September 1952 (age 66)
Snaresbrook, Essex, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour Co-operative
Alma mater Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Middlesex University
Religion Anglican Christian
Website www.mikegapes.org

Michael John "Mike" 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

Mike Gapes was born in Wanstead Hospital, the son of a postman, 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. 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 for a few months as an administrator at Middlesex Hospital in 1976.

Political career

Labour Party

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,[1][2] and prior to that as a Policy Research Officer.[3]

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.[4]

Parliamentary Candidate for Ilford North

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

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.[5]

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 member of the committee from 2010 to 2015.

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,[6] Islamic Society of Britain (Ilford Branch)[7] and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK[8] who sought to unseat him because of his alleged anti-Muslim bias.[9][10] However, mainstream Muslims attacked these groups as "extremists", and they seem to have had little effect on his majority.[11]

Political views

European Union

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.[12] 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.[13] 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."[14]


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.[15] In November 2013 Gapes visited the Kurdistan region with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan.[16] 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.[17] In August he called for a recall of Parliament to authorise military support for Iraq.[18] 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).[19]

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.[20][21]


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[22] 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.".[23] He further criticised the conduct of Mr. Wiffen saying: "Ilford did not need BNP-style extremism".[24]

In April 2014 Mike Gapes claimed on his website that UKIP’s posters were racist.[25][26]



  1. http://labourlist.org/2014/11/30-years-ago-today-i-started-working-for-the-labour-party/
  2. http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/11/08/fall-of-the-berlin-wall-would-poland-suffer-again/
  3. http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/michael-john-gapes
  4. http://www.dodspeople.com/Pages/Print/Page.aspx?pageid=435&id=27647
  5. [1]
  6. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo010704/halltext/10704h02.htm
  7. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo010704/halltext/10704h02.htm
  8. http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/31495/muslim-groups-vicious-abuse-candidates
  9. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo010704/halltext/10704h02.htm
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PpTvseBND4
  11. http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/3599
  12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24859102
  13. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/08/mps-debate-the-eu-referendum-bill-politics-live-blog
  14. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131108/debtext/131108-0001.htm
  15. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1172
  16. http://www.appgkurdistan.org.uk/?p=329
  17. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140616/debtext/140616-0002.htm
  18. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/08/parliament-should-be-recalled-authorise-military-support-iraq
  19. http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/11/04/defending-the-world-against-the-vilest-fascism-of-our-age/
  20. "Labour MP Gapes says he will rebel on Syria vote". BBC. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Ralph Blackburn (30 November 2015). "Ilford South MP Mike Gapes in hospital following emergency surgery". Ilford Recorder. Retrieved 7 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london-chairman-of-ukip-suspended-over-racist-remarks-6457095.html
  23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/england/8609891.stm
  24. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london-chairman-of-ukip-suspended-over-racist-remarks-6457095.html
  25. http://www.mikegapes.org.uk/why-i-say-ukip-posters-are-racist-
  26. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/04/why-i-say-ukip-posters-are-racist

External links