Sir Keir Starmer has led tributes to former Labour MP Ronnie Campbell after his death.

A party stalwart, Mr Campbell won the Blyth Valley seat north of Newcastle in 1987 and was elected eight times before retiring in 2019.

Labour leader Sir Keir tweeted: “I’m sad to hear about the passing of Ronnie Campbell.

“Ronnie was a dedicated servant to the people of Blyth Valley and an impressive campaigner.

“I send my, and the entire Labour Party’s condolences, to Ronnie’s wife, Deirdre, their children, family and friends.”

Born in Tynemouth, Mr Campbell spent three decades as a miner and trade union activist before entering Parliament.

He was first elected to the Blyth district council in 1969 and became the local mining union chairman in 1982 when working on the coalface at Bates Colliery, leading picket lines in the 1984–85 miners’ strike.

After his pit closed he was selected as the Labour candidate for the Blyth Valley.

He was vocal about the decline of his area after the demise of mining.

Mr Campbell underwent heart surgery in 2020 after suffering stomach cancer some years earlier.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “So sorry to learn about Ronnie’s death. Throughout all his battles with his health, he never seemed to lose his good humour or his dedication to speaking up for people at the sharp end.

“Sending condolences to his family and loved ones.”

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North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Ronnie Campbell was a good man and a good friend. He was exactly what’s missing in modern politics, someone rooted in his area who stuck to his principles.

“He led picket lines in the miners’ strike, even getting arrested twice. He was never about spin or building a political career. Without fear or favour he pushed to get the best for the people he represented.

“My deepest condolences to his wife Deirdre and the family. It’s a sad loss.”