A well-known and respected Bolton trade unionist has been expelled from the Labour Party after a membership spanning decades, it has emerged.

Bernadette Gallagher received a letter from the party she had been a member of for 40 years towards the end of November saying her membership had been terminated.

This came after Mrs Gallagher 'liked' several tweets dating back to 2022 calling for a higher living wage and public ownership of energy companies by the left wing “Breakthrough Party.”

Mrs Gallagher said: “They’re not interested in what I say, it’s about who I am.

“They know I’m quite influential in the CLP (Constituency Labour Party) but nationally they want to be seen as a changed party, so they just want to rid the party of any kind of dissent.”

The Bolton News: Labour leader Keir StarmerLabour leader Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

She added: “They’re now working their way through anyone who might show any opposition to the bland, boring Starmer line.

“It’s not very healthy for democracy is it?”

Mrs Gallagher’s expulsion came almost exactly a year after her fellow Bolton activist, Unison’s Andrea Egan, was thrown out of the party.

Ms Egan was expelled for sharing posts by the left wing group Socialist Appeal, which she pointed out had been affiliated to the Labour Party at the time she shared them.

Mrs Gallagher has long been a well-known figure in the town, having served as joint branch secretary of public sector union Unison before her retirement.

The Bolton News: Bolton Unison's Andrea Egan was expelled from the Labour Party in November 2022Bolton Unison's Andrea Egan was expelled from the Labour Party in November 2022 (Image: Newsquest)

In recent years she has led several campaigns as secretary of the Bolton and District Pensioners Association, most notably the protests against train station ticket office closures.

Last November Mrs Gallagher took part in a vigil on the steps of Bolton Town Hall for the children caught up in the conflict in Gaza.

These roles have been separate from her membership of the Labour Party.

But in February 2023 she was one of nine of the Bolton North East Constituency Labour Party to resign from its 13 person executive over the selection of the branch’s parliamentary candidate.

Mrs Gallagher was first told about the allegations she had breached the party’s rules by liking tweets posted by the Breakthrough Party in October and was expelled the next month.

The Breakthrough Party is a minor socialist party based in Bury that was founded in 2021.

Mrs Gallagher was found to have liked three tweets posted by the party.

The first, liked on January 19 2022,  criticised Labour MP Christian Wakeford.

Mr Wakeford had been elected as a Conservative MP for Bury South in 2019 before defecting to Labour in January 2022.

The second tweet, liked on April 21 2022, said: “Should we raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

The third tweet, which Mrs Gallagher liked on March 23 2023, said: “Centrica, who own British Gas: - Tripled its profits as energy bills skyrocketed. – forced entry into people’s homes to install prepayment meters. – Now their boss is getting £3.7 million in bonuses. They are taking the piss. It’s time to nationalise our energy sector.”

In its letter to Mrs Gallagher, Labour claims that this counts as supporting a political organisation that is “inimical with the aims and values of the Party.”

But Mrs Gallagher has pointed out that the ideas like a £15 an hour minimum wage are in line with her own union’s policies.

She also says that like most of the public she had been unaware of who the Breakthrough Party were.

Mrs Gallagher said: “I’d never heard of them before and I’m pretty in touch with these left wing groups.

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“The tweets themselves are quite innocuous but it was deemed to be support for another party.”

She added: “I don’t deny liking the tweets but like I said, I’d never heard of the Breakthrough Party.”

Since hearing about her expulsion, Mrs Gallagher says she has heard supportive comments from friends and colleagues across the political spectrum.

She said: “These are people who over the years I’ve had real disagreements with but who have said they really don’t like the way the party is going.”

She added: “It’s left me politically homeless.”

But the party has said it will continue to take "decisive action" like this.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "Under Keir Starmer's leadership the Labour Party has changed fundamentally since 2019. 

"The Labour Party is no longer a party of protest. 

"The Labour Party will go into the next general election with a credible, sensible and deliverable plan to build a better Britain. 

"There are some within the Labour Party that have not been comfortable with this change.

"Their views are no longer tolerated and the party has and will continue to take decisive action on those who hold views that are not compatible with our values."