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On Thursday 18th January, Mike Gapes MP spoke in the House of Commons during the Holocaust Memorial Day debate. The speech can be viewed here.

"My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), in his absolutely powerful and moving speech, made reference to films. There is another—Steven Spielberg’s fantastic work “Shoah” in which survivors living at the time all gave their testimony, speaking in their own words for the record. Hopefully, those words will be there for generations to come.

Twenty-one years ago, I introduced a private Member’s Bill on holocaust denial. It was a precursor to a private Member’s Bill on Holocaust Memorial Day promoted by my former hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, who came in in 1997. We did not get the Bill on denial, but we did get the Bill on memorial. I received an incredible amount of anti-Semitic abuse. For two years after, I received specially printed Christmas cards with the most vile images. The assumption was that I was Jewish. Actually, I am not; I grew up in Ilford and the mum of one of my best friends at school always thought that I was Jewish because I was always round there, but I am not.​

Interestingly, after the election in 1997, I decided that I was going to do more about these issues. Then a group was established locally which campaigned against me because I supported a two-state position in the middle east. The group, which called itself the Association of Ilford Muslims—I do not have the time now, but I refer Members to my Westminster Hall debate that I held in June 2001—put out leaflets saying that I was no friend of the Muslims, I was a true friend of Israel, and I represented Tel Aviv South, not Ilford South. Subsequently, the Muslim Political Action Committee UK was set up. It has peddled on the internet and through social media anti-Semitic material, which it dresses up as anti-Zionism. It has targeted people in election campaigns, including in Rochdale, Oldham, Birmingham, Blackburn, in my constituency and elsewhere to try to get rid of people it regards as pro-Zionist MPs—mainly Labour MPs, but Conservatives as well. That has been the power of their message. It is insidious, and it is in our politics.

I am very pleased to say that next Friday in Ilford we are going to have all communities, as we always do—Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews—

Lyn Brown: May I just ask my hon. Friend for the venue?

Mike Gapes: Valentines Park in Ilford, at the holocaust memorial garden, which was established on the initiative of the former council leader—still a Conservative councillor—Alan Weinberg. We will have our annual service there, and there will be young people from many different schools, including, as in recent years, young people from a Muslim school—the Al-Noor school. We have many different people from different faiths speaking, because that is Ilford today. A century ago, Ilford had a very large Jewish community, but now we have all the different faiths, and they come together.

It is important to recognise that the poison that was put out against me all those years ago did not succeed. I am still here. More importantly, the community has rejected extremists of that kind, but they are still there. They are out on Twitter. They are out on Facebook.

Ruth Smeeth:My hon. Friend makes a powerful case for how much has changed locally. This debate is all about the power of education, and that has a huge impact in my constituency and across the country, which is why the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is so important.

Mike Gapes: I absolutely agree. I had not been to Auschwitz before 2013, when I went with a group of young people from schools in the south of England—there were not people from my constituency on the day that I was available. Every year, young people from many of my local schools go there, and those young people come back and talk about their experience, and spread the message in our community.

In our modern, pluralistic, democratic society, we must never forget the events of the holocaust. We must also remember the more recent genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia and what happened to the Yazidis. As the Foreign Affairs Committee and the International Development Committee pointed out in their recent reports, we also need to highlight the plight of the Rohingya today. We must stand together as a community and fight these evils.​"

Mike Gapes MP Speech from Holocaust Memorial Day Debate

On Thursday 18th January, Mike Gapes MP spoke in the House of Commons during the Holocaust Memorial Day debate. The speech can be viewed here.

Every week, I receive hundreds of emails, telephone calls, tweets or messages from Ilford South constituents and others, asking for my support or assistance. 

These range from local matters like housing problems, parking and traffic issues, school places, the NHS, crime and policing, and visit visas for relatives to national policy issues such animal welfare, or Britain’s relationship with Europe, and international issues like climate change, Syria or the plight of the Rohingya people. 

Over the last twenty five years there has been a significant change in the way constituents contact me. Today I receive far more messages via Facebook than hand written letters. 

It is of course impossible for me to personally deal with the problems of almost 150,000 constituents and 90,000 electors. However I am regularly contacted on a very personal matter by constituents who are very distressed and feel they have nowhere left to turn.

I take every issue raised with me seriously, whether personal, local or national and my very busy staff in the constituency office and in Parliament respond on my behalf.

Occasionally it may be necessary for my staff to see a constituent personally or to arrange an appointment at one of my regular Advice surgeries. But usually this will not be necessary. 

Recently, several constituents have contacted me citing specific instances of crime and burglary in Redbridge which have also been publicised on social media, and which they feel are symptomatic of rising crime generally in the area. I am in regular contact with the Metropolitan Police Service at the most senior level both London wide and in East London and Redbridge to discuss resources, policy and operations. I regularly discuss crimes which are affecting my constituency. I have met with the Police and local residents to discuss issues on Ilford Lane and the surrounding streets. Earlier this month I walked the beat with the Town Centre neighbourhood policing team on Cranbrook Road and Ilford High Road. 
 
I am very concerned that the huge cuts made to police resources in London by the Conservative governments since 2010 are now leading to a deteriorating service for my constituents. I intend to organise a forum in which constituents can raise their issues directly with the police in Ilford. I will continue to respond to individual correspondence concerning crime. 

Please note that I am only able to take up these matters if I receive constituents’ full addresses, contact details, and any crime reference numbers. The best and most effective way to contact me on individual crime and policing issues is not through a Facebook Group or via Twitter but by contacting my constituency office on 0208 911 0899 or by emailing me at Mike.Gapes.MP@parliament.uk. 

Statement on Crime in Ilford

Every week, I receive hundreds of emails, telephone calls, tweets or messages from Ilford South constituents and others, asking for my support or assistance. These range from local matters like housing...

This week Mike Gapes MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

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Mike Gapes MP took part in the Holocaust Memorial Day debate in Parliament this afternoon. You can view the speech here. He will be attending the national Holocaust Memorial Day service in Central London on Thursday 25th January and the Redbridge Memorial Service in Valentines Park on Friday 26 January.

Saturday 27th January will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘The power of words’.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Mike Gapes MP commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Ilford South and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. At a time when antisemitism is growing on both left and right it is more vital than ever that we remember and learn the lessons from the Holocaust. I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”

 

 

Mike Gapes MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

This week Mike Gapes MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during...


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