British Labour Party Pays Tribute To Late Member Alan Rickman

British actor Alan Rickman in Berlin February 9, 2006. The actor, whose death was announced Thursday, dedicated himself to progressive politics. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Tony Blair's former spin doctor on Thursday joined other voices from Britain's Labour Party in paying tribute to the late actor Alan Rickman, a former member.

"Alan Rickman was a supporter of the Labour Party when it was far from fashionable among artists to be so," Alastair Campbell tells Newsweek in a statement, "He had a passionate belief in progressive causes and progressive politics and was a great friend to many in the party and beyond."

Rickman, whose death from cancer at 69 was announced on Thursday, was politically active throughout his life, and once said that he was born "a card carrying member of the Labour party." Rickman was among the first public figures to visit then-Chancellor Gordon Brown at his official Downing Street residence to congratulate him on Blair's landslide general victory in 1997. Labour continued to use actors, such as The Office star Martin Freeman, in party political broadcasts at the last election.

Rickman's wife, Rima Horton, spent 20 years as a Labour councillor in Chelsea from 1986-2006. The pair were teenage sweethearts but only married in a secret ceremony in 2012.

On Thursday, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the first public figures to express his sorrow at Rickman's death, tweeting: "Very sad to hear that Alan Rickman has passed away. One of the greatest actors of his generation. My thoughts are with his family & friends."

Blair also praised the actor, telling The Mirror: "Alan was a brilliant actor and director and a great supporter of ‎progressive causes.

"He was extraordinarily modest and easy going for someone so talented and successful and a delightful person to be around."

Former prime minister and Labour leader Gordon Brown said: "Alan Rickman was a giant of British theatre and film and a supporter of the greatest of good causes. Our thoughts are with his family."

The party's last leader Ed Miliband called him a "Brilliant actor, deeply principled man. My heart goes out to Rima and his family."

Miliband's brother, David, a former Labour government minister, said "So sad and shocking to hear about Alan Rickman. Truly a giant and a gent. His eyes always twinkled, and that voice…"