Labour leaders pay tribute to Stonewall founder and Labour politician Michael Cashman

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Tony Blair was among several Labour figures to pay tribute to Michael Cashman at a party marking his contribution to politics and LGBT rights.

Mr Cashman officially retired from the European Parliament yesterday. An LGBT Labour reception was held in honour of his 15 years of service on Wednesday evening.

Tony and Cherie Blair were the surprise guests at the central London event.

Also present were Labour politicians Yvette Cooper, Gloria De Piero, Ben Bradshaw, Chris Bryant, Sharon Hodgson and Baroness Royall.

Earlier, a video tribute from all four surviving Labour leaders, Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock, was played out in front of Mr Cashman.

The video featured messages from Paul O’Grady, Sir Ian McKellen, Michelle Collins, and Glenys Kinnock.

Visibly moved and overwhelmed, Mr Cashman expressed his gratitude and said that he simply “did not deserve this”.

He gave special thanks to his partner of over twenty years, Paul Cottingham, who he described as “my hero”.

Mr Cashman said his retirement as an MEP did not mean he would be retiring from public life and LGBT campaigning.

Recently enacted anti-gay laws in several countries meant the fight for LGBT rights “would continue for another generation”.

He vowed to continue to “make mischief” and recalled the words of his father who said: “If you still have a brain – you can be dangerous!”

The event was hosted by long-term friends and fellow campaigners Lisa Power and Simon Fanshawe who founded gay rights charity Stonewall with Michael Cashman in 1989.