A FORMER city MP says those opposing plans on how Labour leaders are elected are creating a civil war and "doing the Tories dirty work for them".

Mike Foster, who was Worcester's MP between 1997 and 2010, was speaking on leader Keir Starmer's proposal for the scrapping of the one member, one vote (OMOV) system, to be replaced with a return to the electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members.

The move to reduce the weight of members’ votes has sparked fury on the Labour left including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, elected under the OMOV system, who said a change would be "deeply undemocratic".

Mr Foster, who remains Labour’s only ever MP for city, said: "If I can be quite blunt, the system that elected Jeremy Corbyn was abused - not by all, but by some and frankly made a mockery of the Labour Party's rules.

"You could pay your £3 and vote for the leader, regardless if you were a Labour Party member or not.

"We had the ridiculous position between 2015 and 2019 of a leader elected not by a majority of (Labour) MPs. That clearly didn't work.

"Between (those years) the Labour Party let down the people of this country because it was not a credible government in waiting.

"Let's go back to a system that worked, and the electoral college for me is the way to do that."

Asked if the row appeared inward looking and was causing unnecessary conflict within the party, Mr Foster said: "Keir Starmer was elected overwhelming to be leader.

"It is important now we show, from the shadow cabinet to ordinary grassroots members like myself, that we are firmly behind the leader as he tries to make Labour electable again.

"The public may hear about these changes, but I don't think it matters to them as having an opposition they can trust.

"If we have these internal changes the public won't care.

"And if people who oppose these changes try and create a civil war within the party then they are just doing the Tories work for them, and shame on them for doing so."