How to look like an arrogant twit

Who is responsible for flooding the Somerset Levels? Surprisingly, no-one seems to have fingered God, but this week Owen Paterson turned himself into a lightning conductor for blame.

By visiting the flooded areas and not talking to local people the Environment Secretary gave a convincing impression of being an arrogant twit.

No-one can seriously blame him for failing to dredge the waterways over the past 50 years but if you are going to take the trouble to drive down to soggy Somerset for a photo opportunity you really need to wear wellies, and you do need to get them wet.

You also need to nod sagely while people vent their frustration in your ear and at least give the impression that you care enough about their plight to do something.

What you do not need to do is arrive at a pumping station in a posh Range Rover, wearing smart city shoes, and not lend an ear to the many distressed people who have gathered to ask for Government help.

However tight your schedule may be and however important your next appointment you don’t, you really don’t, act like this with Joe Public – especially when the media are present.

Should we blame his press office for this public relations disaster? Who knows, but someone should have a stern word with Mr Paterson about how to behave in front of the cameras.

– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media.