Tag Archives: Mike Gapes

If Mike Gapes left Labour because of religious discrimination, why the apparent support for Islamophobia?

Mike Gapes: He seems a very confused – but excitable – individual.

Former Labour Parliamentarian turned Change UK MP Mike Gapes should have kept his fingers away from the keyboard when a fellow member of the new party – and European Parliament candidate – was accused of Islamophobia.

Nora Mulready was accused of conflating Islam with terrorism, suggesting it was a “fallacy that Islamism is nothing to do with Islam” and that radical Islamism could be “Koranically justified”.

Both the Muslim Council of Britain and anti-racism reporting service Tell Mama condemned the candidate.

But Mr Gapes made it clear that he supported Ms Mulready, first by retweeting a supportive message by The Independent Group (the former name of Change UK) London:

This attracted the attention of Muslim Twitter user – and friend of This Site – Aleesha. Her criticism provoked Mr Gapes to enter the fray directly:

Note that he seemed to be saying the exact opposite of Ms Mulready, who had apparently claimed that Islamism (the political ideology) and Islam (the religion) were the same.

She was having none of it. By now, her supporters were starting to react too:

Here’s his response:

And then he blocked her:

It was too late by now, though – Mr Gapes was already attracting adverse comments on his own Twitter feed. He blocked these people too:

He summed up the clash as follows:

And here’s Aleesha’s take on it:

What should we make of it?

Mr Gapes left Labour in February, claiming that the party was now considered racist and anti-Semitic. But here he is seen happily defending someone accused of Islamophobia, apparently by inverting one of her comments to mean the opposite of what he said. And when a Muslim took issue with him, he told her to “trot off”.

At best this is hypocritical; at worst racist. It wouldn’t be the first racism to come out of Change UK either – would it, Angela Smith?


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‘Independent Group’ MPs face demands for by-elections in their constituencies

Challenge: Luciana Berger speaking at the launch of the Independent Group. Within hours the Labour Party in her Wavertree constituency had challenged her to prove she deserves to continue as MP for the constituency by taking part in a by-election.

February 18 was a big day for the “Maleficent Seven” Labour MPs who quit to form their own “Independent Group” in Parliament – and now they are facing demands for by-elections in their constituencies.

Local Labour members who helped Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey say they were elected into Parliament on a Labour manifesto but the people of those constituencies no longer have representatives who support that manifesto. They say voters are entitled to choose whether they want to keep the MPs they have, or elect someone who means it when they say they support Labour ideals.

All in all, it was hardly an auspicious start for the group, whose members intended to use their split from Labour to highlight alleged faults in the party they were leaving.

We very soon had ample evidence that the schism was hardly prompted by recent events – the group’s website was registered in 2015… in a tax haven abroad.

The headquarters of this Brexit-opposing organisation is above a Wetherspoons pub – an organisation that supports Brexit – called, appropriately, The Unicorn.

And it turns out that this political organisation is nothing of the sort – it is in fact a company called Gemini A Ltd. This allows it to take advantage of a legal loophole that means Gemini A Ltd does not have to declare the identity of its financial backers. We don’t know who is funding these MPs.

Within hours of the new group being announced, Ms Smith had plunged it into a racism row with ill-judged remarks on the BBC’s Politics Live.

And now all seven are facing challenges to justify their claims on their Parliamentary seats.

See for yourself:

(For those who have trouble reading images, the tweet from Wavertree CLP says: “We are extremely disappointed that Luciana Berger has made the decision to resign from the Labour Party. 35,000 people in Wavertree voted for the Labour Manifesto in 2017, yet they are no longer represented by a Labour MP. We call on Luciana Berger to immediately resign the seat, to give the people of Wavertree the opportunity to decide who represents them in Parliament.”)

It seems this new organisation is built on lies and broken promises. That is a poor platform from which to demand the trust of the people.


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MPs split off from the Labour Party. Voters say ‘Good riddance!’

Chuka Umunna: Good riddance.

A group of seven MPs has split off from the Labour Party – to gasps of relief across the United Kingdom.

The reaction is probably not what they wanted.

The group includes Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith as expected.

Joining them are Luciana Berger – quitting before her Liverpool Wavertree CLP pushes through the “no confidence” vote that members have been readying? – along with Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.

The group has released a statement but it seems its website is having teething problems – odd since it has been registered since 2015 – and I can’t really be bothered unless Vox Political readers are genuinely interested. Are you?

It’s much more fun to highlight the public response, which is primarily relief. The flood of comments yesterday (Sunday, February 18) when rumours spread that the split would happen today, speaks for itself. Some thought this was another publicity stunt and they would not go through with it:

Others pointed out the qualities of the expected splitters and the likely tensions between them:

The prevailing mood – especially in the case of Mr Umunna, was clear:

And some posted wish lists of other Labour members they would like to see split off – for a very obvious reason:

Mr Jeffery will be pleased to see Ms Berger and Mr Gapes among the splitters. Mr Gapes is also on Matt Zarb-Cousins’s list:

Speculation on what the “Independent Group” would represent has been overwhelmingly negative towards them:

And the departure will provoke comparisons with the “Gang of Four” who formed the SDP in 1981. That decision led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a party that apparently killed itself off as a national political organisation by forming a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015. Here’s Martin O’Neill:

As ever, Tony Benn called it correctly – 38 years ago.

Last word goes to Liam Young:

Damn straight – good riddance.

Bryant gets burnt over ‘gammon’ gag

Chris Bryant: He’s starting to learn that careless tweeting can cost careers.

If this wasn’t so deliberately disingenuous it would be absolutely hilarious. It’s still funny, but tinged with the malevolence that accompanies all right-wing Labour MPs claims of anti-Semitism in others.

You may be aware of the slang term “gammon” – used to describe (according to the Wikipedia page on the subject) “older white men, especially those who are particularly patriotic or supported Brexit, who appear pink-faced when emotional. The term is a comparison of their skin colour to the pink of salted pork hind leg, i.e. gammon.”

The term came into common usage after 2012, although its use can be traced back to Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, in 1838.

The Wikipedia page even carried a photograph of Labour MP Mike Gapes, listing him as “an example of prime gammon“, until it was edited off on August 27.

This may be the reason:

You may be aware of rumours that Mr Gapes has been set to resign from the Labour Party in response to the latest wave of (false) anti-Semitism accusations against Jeremy Corbyn.

As Mr Gapes is a member of Labour Friends of Israel, the organisation that was famously offered £1 million by Israeli government conspirator Shai Masot to remove Mr Corbyn from his position as Labour leader, this is unsurprising.

It attracted a tweet by “Damian from Brighton” to Mr Gapes, linking these two threads as follows: “Your departure from Labour is completely understandable. You are a supporter of an organisation associated with an apartheid state so it isn’t tenable for you to remain in the party.”

He added: “Could you confirm your leaving date? I will be holding a gammon supper to celebrate.”

Enter Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda, who is not a supporter of LFI but seems to be a supporter of Mr Gapes:

Twitter did a collective double-take – and then piled on on Mr Bryant like a pack of hungry wolves.

Here’s part of the conversation. Note the number of different contributors:

https://twitter.com/matteoj17/status/1034151964718841856

At this point, Damin from Brighton re-enters the narrative, with a tweet to the Labour Party Whips’ Office, party general secretary Jennie Formby, and the party’s general purpose Twitter feed:

He was absolutely right to do so. At best, Mr Bryant was being wilfully ignorant; at worst, he was deliberately (and lamely) trying to create another false accusation of anti-Semitism.

Mr Bryant failed to retract his statement, so Damian decided to take matters further:

Anyone wishing to support him can email [email protected]

During this time, Evolve Politics (who brought my attention to this issue via the tweet at the top of this article) published a piece about the row, it’s well worth reading and contained a tweet from Mr Gapes:

One can only imagine he thought he could bully Damian off.

Not so:

This is what happens when people in authority abuse their position.

Both Mr Gapes and Mr Bryant are now facing the possibility of punishment for their attempts to bully, browbeat and otherwise batter a person who was expressing a perfectly acceptable opinion.

They thought the public would lie down and quietly accept that they knew best.

But the public has had enough of the false accusations and its members are determined to have their say.

We have the facts, we have the arguments and – by the way – we have the numbers.

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Right-wing Labour MPs betray the UK by offering to prop up the Tory government

Together we’re… stabbing the UK in the back, it seems. At least, that’s what Tom Watson and a certain cadre of right-wing Labour MPs are doing.

If ever there was an argument that MPs should always be made to ask their constituency for permission to stand for re-election at the end of every Parliamentary term – mandatory reselection, as it’s called – it is this:

As Theresa May’s government floundered in chaos of its own making after years of dithering over Brexit, Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Ian Austin and Tom Watson swooped in – not to deliver the killing blow, but to offer help.

Thanks to the Conservative Party, the UK is now a country where critically-ill patients are left to die in hospital corridors because the government would rather give money to private companies than pay for clinical care.

Thanks to the Tories, the UK is a place where people with serious long-term illnesses and disabilities are forced off the benefits they need and ‘nudged’ towards death because the government would rather give money to private companies that persecute the poor than pay to provide them a decent standard of living.

Thanks to Theresa May, the UK is a place that deports its citizens for the heinous crime of being black.

It is in this context that the Labour MP for Ilford South, Mike Gapes, got on his hind legs in the House of Commons and suggested “that we work in the national interest together” – suggesting that Labour could actually work with the Tory parasites to form a government of national unity.

Mr Gapes even had the nerve to invoke the name of Clement Attlee in his speech.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson compounded the crime by appearing on the BBC’s Today programme. He said: “Is the current meltdown in the government good for anyone? Well you know, obviously electorally it might help my party but that’s no good.”

What?

Why’s that, then, Tom?

Why would it be no good to get a government into office that might stop the deaths, destitutions and deportations that the Tories have heaped upon us?

Why would it be no good to get a government into office that might get the UK off its knees and back into working order?

Tell us, Tom!

He didn’t.

Instead, he appeared on TV to say, “It’s not a question of Labour trying to bring the government down; it’s actually a question of Labour trying to help the government get a good deal, and trying to stop the government bringing itself down.”

To this, the interview responded – as if it was scripted: “So a government of national unity then – that’d be quite good, wouldn’t it?”

No.

It is not the purpose of the Opposition Party to prop up a failed regime; these MPs should be demanding the dissolution of the current government and a general election.

And when that election finally happens…

Their constituency parties should ensure that none of the MPs who wanted a “government of national unity” should be standing – at least, not for the Labour Party.

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Labour ‘fiscal charter’ rebels are ignoring the evidence

Mr McDonnell in Redcar with shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and constituency MP Anna Turley [Image: Ian Forsyth for the Mirror].

Mr McDonnell in Redcar with shadow business secretary Angela Eagle and constituency MP Anna Turley [Image: Ian Forsyth for the Mirror].

The shock and anger professed by some Labour MPs at shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s decision to oppose George Osborne’s Charter for Budget Responsibility – in line with Labour’s anti-austerity policy direction – defies belief.

Mr McDonnell has claimed his decision was triggered by a meeting with steel workers in Redcar, where the factory is to be closed down after the Conservative Government wouldn’t lift a finger to save it.

He said: “Originally what I said to people was, ‘This charter is a political stunt; it is a political trap by George Osborne; it is virtually meaningless; he ignores it himself time and time again.

“‘He never meets his targets, so this is just a stunt. Let’s ridicule it in the debate and vote for it because it’s a meaningless vote’.”

But then he went to Redcar. “I met the steelworkers and I had families in tears about what’s happened to them as a result of the Government failing to act, failing to intervene.

“I came back and I realised, as the consequence of the Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure, in skills, the cuts that are going to start coming now, I realised that people actually are going to suffer badly.

“It brought it home to me and I don’t want the Labour Party associated with this policy.”

This Blog has already reported that the change of heart was also prompted by the worldwide economic outlook. The Charter commits the government to balancing the books within three years, provided there is not another global crisis. Mr McDonnell announced in a letter to fellow Labour MPs: “In the last fortnight there have been a series of reports highlighting the economic challenges facing the global economy as a result of the slowdown in emerging markets.

“These have included warnings from the International Monetary Fund’s latest financial stability report, the Bank of England chief economist, Andy Haldane, and the former Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers.”

According to the BBC, former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie criticised the U-turn and said Labour should set out its own motion: “To go from one extreme to the other is wrong in economic terms but also it sends the wrong message to the general public as well.

“I think to be fair to John McDonnell this is a very difficult balancing act, it’s a very difficult topic, but it’s incredibly important that he is clear and consistent and explains fully not just what Labour’s position is but also why he backed George Osborne’s surplus a couple of weeks ago and is now against it apparently.”

But Mr McDonnell had already explained his reasoning in the letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party and, according to Paul Mason of Channel 4 News, he had indeed planned to move its own alternative to the charter, and to table amendments – but “both these possibilities have been ruled out by the clerks of the Commons.”

The Guardian reported the responses of Labour MPs John Mann and Mike Gapes: “In a comment piece written for the website Politics Home, Mann said “There has been no debate, nor any consultation within the Labour Party.”

But the new developments Mr McDonnell cites all happened within a very tight period. When was there time for a consultation or debate, prior to last night’s meeting?

Mann continues: “The reality is that to have voted with Osborne would have led to political meltdown in Scotland… New Corbyn supporters would have been bemused and demoralised. It would have been a political disaster with huge consequences.”

On one aspect of this, it seems likely he is correct. SNP supporters, ignoring the vacillation of their own party’s leader on this subject (she opposed it – and Labour – during the election campaign, then supported it after the Tories won. Now it seems she and her party are opposing it again) have leapt to the attack in any case, claiming – improbably – that it is Labour that has wavered, in denial of the fact that a new leadership has brought new policies with it.

New Corbyn supporters are anti-austerity, though. They will be delighted by Mr McDonnell’s decision.

The Graun continued: “Mike Gapes, Labour MP for Ilford South since 1992, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to condemn his party’s state. ‘There is now no collective Shadow cabinet responsibility in our Party, no clarity on economic policy and no credible leadership,’ he wrote. Challenged by another user of the social media site to show loyalty to Corbyn, Gapes responded: ‘I will show loyalty in the same way as he was loyal to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown, Beckett, Miliband and Harman. Ok?'”

No. How about showing loyalty to the majority of the party who support Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell and the policies they are promoting?

All in all, it seems the Labour leadership won’t be able to do right by these ‘rebels’ (if they can be called that) no matter what they choose to do. McDonnell was criticised on the pretext that supporting the CBR was against his anti-austerity beliefs (and never mind the fact that he explained his reasons for it) and now he’s being criticised for opposing it, in line with his anti-austerity beliefs.

Do these people – Messrs Leslie, Mann and Gapes – realise that they aren’t making sense?

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