Michael John Gapes, (aka Mike Gapes) (born 4 September 1952) is a British politician. He is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Ilford South. In 2006, he held the influential position of Chairman of House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Gapes is a prominent Zionist and pro-war voice in the party.
Mike Gapes was born in Wanstead Hospital in the London Borough of Redbridge, the son of a postal worker, and educated locally at the Staples Road Infants' School in Loughton, Manford County Primary School in Chigwell and 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 student's union in 1973. He completed his education at the Middlesex Polytechnic in Enfield where he earned a diploma in industrial relations in 1976.
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 for the Labour Party. 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 ever since.
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 Adam Ingram until 1999 when he joined the defence select committee. He was a member of the Select Committee on Defence from 1999 to 2001. 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 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 that 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 and Sierra Leone.
Point man on Iran
While the publication of "intelligence estimates" in the United States completely undermined a push for war against Iran, several parliamentarians have formed a committee to publish "findings" on Iranian nuclear capabilities. On 2 March 2008, a report published by Commons Foreign Affairs Committee makes the case that 'Iran's uranium enrichment work will allow it to make nuke missiles by 2015.' The chairman of this group is Mike Gapes.
- Elected to parliament: 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005.
- July 2005 - present: Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee
- 2006: Chairman of the All Party Crossrail Group
- 2003 to 2005: Defence Committee
- 2002 to 2005: Chair of the Board of Governors of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy
- 2001 to 2002: Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Home Office
- 1999 to 2001: Defence Committee
- 1997 to 1999: Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office
- 1992 to 1997: member of the Foreign Affairs Committee
- Labour Friends of Israel
- Labour Middle East Council
- Westminster Foundation for Democracy Chair from 2002 
Gapes has a pro-EU position, once declaring that he would prefer closer ties rather than Britain becoming an amusement park for American and Japanese tourists.
Despite the war against Lebanon
On 16 August 2006, Mike Gapes confirmed that he would remain a member of the Labour Friends of Israel group despite the actions of Israel in conducting a war of aggression against Lebanon. The confirmation can be read here.
- 'Is it not about time that the Liberal Democrats ceased to be the Saddam Hussein preservation society?'(in the House of Commons, 21 October 2004)
- 'for many of us the decision to go into Iraq was a question of a choice between the failed policy of containment and the historic opportunity to liberate the Iraqi people from fascist tyranny... we in this country who made that choice will know over the next decades that it was right'(House of Commons, 8 July 2003)
Contact, References and Resources
- Email: GAPESM@parliament.uk
- Website: www.mikegapes.org.uk
- Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Mike Gapes MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com - Mike Gapes MP
- Mike Gapes comments on Israel can be found in this website. Change the search criteria, and his other statements can be investigated.
- Mike Gapes, After the Cold War, Fabian Society, 1990, ISBN 0716305402
- Mike Gapes, Time to talk to Hamas, Guardian, 13 August 2007.
- Nigel Nelson , Iran set for nuke strike in 7 years, The People.co.uk, 2 March 2008.
- They Work for You
- Sarah Womack, "Labour MP targeted by Islamic group", The Daily Telegraph, 27 March 2001
- Gaping hole: Mike Gapes, Labour MP fails a citizenship test, Q-News, Issue 367, July 2006
- House Debate on EU