A former senior member of the Birmingham City Council cabinet has launched an extraordinary attack on Labour organisers, claiming that the party had been "brought to its knees" by the scandal of postal vote fraud.

John Tyrrell said confidence was at an all-time low as Labour approached the May council elections.

He blamed "gross mismanagement" by West Midlands

Labour officials who had permitted the party's good name to be besmirched by electoral corruption.

Mr Tyrrell, who held the cabinet transportation portfolio until he was deselected as a Labour candidate in 2004, singled out the loss of five formerly safe Labour council seats in Aston and Bordesley Green last year following evidence of postal vote fraud.

Birmingham became the centre of a national debate about voting methods after a high court judge said fraud across the city would not dis-grace a banana republic.

Five Labour councillors were thrown off the council.

In a letter to regional Labour official Keith Hampson, Mr Tyrrell said: "Labour has lost five out of six seats because of associations with postal vote fraud.

"This is the result of gross mismanage- ment of the party and breath-taking arrogance of people who no one has elected to office.

"The abuse of power is scandalous and has brought the Labour Party locally to its knees."

Mr Tyrrell warned that the imposition of short lists for election candidates against local ward party wishes meant that "popular" Labour councillors were being excluded.

Mr Tyrrell's remarks were dismissed by Labour National Executive Committee member Mike Griffiths, who said: "There is no substance to the allegations made by former councillor John Tyrrell.

"Our staff have been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that electoral law is rigidly applied."