Mike has previously served Ilford South as the local Member of Parliament since 1992 and is now seeking re-election as your Labour and Co-operative Party candidate.
“I'm Mike Gapes; I'm the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Ilford South.
I was a Member of Parliament for this constituency for twenty-three years, since 1992. I was born in the borough of Redbridge in Wanstead Hospital. I went to Primary School in Hainault, in Manford Primary and my mum who is now eight-five still lives in that area. Both my mother and my children went to Christ Church Primary School which is in Valentines ward, and so in many senses I am a local man and I believe I have a national and international voice.
In my twenty-three years in the House of Commons I've represented this area to the best of my ability and taken up thousands of cases on behalf of individuals - whether they are visit visas, our housing problems or issues with school places or time waiting for treatment at a hospital or whether it is people who have employment issues or other matters. My office in Ilford and my office in the House of Commons is incredibly busy. We have helped thousands of people.
I also have been an active MP in various All-Party groups in parliament including being active on some of the disability groups and mental health and education groups but also I've been Chair of the All-Party Crossrail group and in my time in parliament I've also served various important scutiny and select committees. I've been a member of the defence committee, committee on arms export controls and for most of my time in the House of Commons a member of the foreign affairs select committee, and for five years from 2005-2010 under the Labour government I was the Chairman of that committee and I'm still a member of that committee in the last parliament.
I believe it is important to support and sustain scrutiny in other ways, and I regularly ask questions and make speeches in parliament on many different issues. I've played a prominent role in arguing the case for British membership of the European Union and against the threat of a withdrawal of the EU which would be a disaster for our country, and I've also spoken out on international questions including the treatment of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, and also for women's rights and democracy throughout the world.
I was for two years in the Northern Ireland office when Labour was in government as part of Mo Mowlam's team under Tony Blair when we secured the Belfast Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and I'm proud of that as one of my most important things that I did, that I was part of that negotiating team that got that agreement and we now see the fruits of that in a peaceful and more prosperous Northern Ireland, which is a model for some of the other conflicts around the world.
I also spent a year in the Home office which is a very difficult department, and I was in that department in the year after the terrorists attacks of 9/11, and that was a very busy and difficult year but I understand the threats of terrorism globally and also in this country and believe we need to work internationally, collectively, and we all have a responsibility both as individuals and as a community, and between countries to make sure that the extremists that wish to divide us are never successful.
I'm proud to have had the opportunity to serve the people of Ilford South and to represent Britain internationally as well in some important international meetings and conferences including the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I am asking for your support to continue to have that opportunity for the next parliament. Thank you.”