Mike Gapes – diverting attention away from May’s Brexit disaster

Mike Gapes – diverting attention away from May’s Brexit disaster

JVL Statement, 21 January 2019

While figures across the political spectrum are uniting around Jeremy Corbyn’s call for Theresa May to ditch a disastrous No Deal Brexit, Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South, has launched a diversionary attack on the leader of his party.

In 2009, Gapes told the then Labour Government to “urgently consider engaging with moderate elements within Hamas”. Last week he abused Corbyn for his preparedness to talk to Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran while placing conditions on talks with May. Has Gapes rethought his attitude to the Middle East or is he just grabbing anything to hand to undermine the first Labour Party leader committed to support for Palestinian rights?

Gapes’ apparent attempt to disrupt Labour strategy in the most important political debate for decades, has been gratefully embraced by media eager to turn attention away from Labour’s principled attempt to prevent a May-induced social and economic disaster for Britain.

Journalists would not need to dig deep to discover that between 2005 and 2010, Gapes chaired the Foreign Affairs Select Committee which criticised Western powers for not engaging with Hamas and Hizbullah in the search for Middle East peace.  A BBC report in 2009, headlined “Britain should approach Hamas,” quoted Gapes saying so.

Gapes has also attacked Corbyn for being soft on Iran. But it was Corbyn who initiated an Early Day Motion (EDM 2526) in Parliament in 2011 protesting at the arrest of Iranian trade unionists. Gapes must have known about this because he was one of 33 MPs who signed it.

This was not a one off for Corbyn. Far from ignoring the suffering of the Iranian populace, he has signed 51 EDMs critical of Iran’s leaders throughout his career going back to the 1960s. Only six MPs have done more. Gapes comes nowhere in the top 20. But he is certainly in the top 20 of those Labour MPs who ceaselessly seek to undermine their Party’s leader.

Iran and Saudi Arabia share a common contempt for human rights. But Gapes was happy to “discuss issues of mutual concern” with Saudi rulers during a paid-for trip to the Kingdom in 2018.

Mike Gapes would do well to learn consistency or silence – indeed, practicing both would improve his standing.



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