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This is very good, Sam. I agree. I am glad we are in Rwanda as a party. Some of the comments opposing the visit have been disappointing. I'll be more interested in seeing Peter Lilley's development policy ideas tomorrow, however. That substance will really make the difference.

Who paid for this boondoggle?

I want my money to be spent on campaigning in target seats, not foreign freebies for hangers-on and bloggers.

I'm very interested in the findings and experiences that come from this trip. Rwanda and central Africa are places we know very little about. I'm saddened that some have played politics with this fact-finding mission. I look forward to getting an insight into this part of the world.

The visit was planned one year ago. Cameron quietly attended to his constituents in Witney affected by the floods with hardly a peep from the media. While 'Lord Protector'Brown attended with a camera team in tow despite spending the past month ignoring the continuing flooding. If anyone needs to learn some modesty it's Brown.

Afleitch, did Brown get out of his helicopter and don a pair of wellies to meet people, or did he stick to the command post down there like a limpet as he seems to do with Cobra in London?
I see the big spender has pledged 200 million of extra aid, which considering I hear that the insurances companies are talking about claims in the region of 2 billion seems a bit tight???
Wonder how much of it is returning the money he just cut from the flood defence budget?

Can't help but notice that this "hug-a-hutu" trip is getting virtually zero play on the TV news...may be Broon got it right and "Sham Cam" should have sent Hague in order to concentrate on the disasters in his own back yard.

It's unfortunate that what could be a useful experience has happened during a time of crisis. It's easy to portray Cameron as doing a Blair (albeit an out-of-power Blair) - running abroad while chaos reigns at home.

Party Donor,

If you read the article properly, you would know who paid for it.

Also, the bbc package about the floods showed Cameron wading through the water in his constituency and asking why the budget for flood defence had been cut last year.

Blink and you missed it!!!

Presumably, Cameron travelled by coach to Rwanda? Surely he, and his team, did not choose to fly.

No they swam....of course they took a plane. What a pointless pithy comment.

Answer me one question: How many votes does Rwanda have in the next general election?

Nobody I know frets about Rwanda. They don't have the time - they're too tied up with working out which of this week's tranche of EU directives are going to cripple their businesses. Dave needs to get real and focus on the near-to-home issues.

Afleitch, its called 'sarcasm'.

Not surprising that the BBC's angle on this was "why wasn't he in Witney?" Is it only in their own minds that BBC journalists are intellectually pure enough to report without personal prejudice?

It's still pithy. I'll say it again, this site is full of them and they simply detract from the discussion.

Unfortunately if the media reaction is anything like tonight's Express & Star - a reputable right-leaning Midlands evening paper covering a number of key marginals such as Wolverhampton SW, Halesowen, and Stourbridge - Rwanda's not going to be a vote winner.

The front page headline, in block capitals: "Brown visits floods, Dave out in Africa." The banner across the top of the front page: "Cameron's folly: Gordon Brown is grabbing the moral high ground while planning to build houses on the low ground - and he is getting away with it." The editorial headline: "Dave out of his depth on flood crisis."

Unhappy reading, to say the least.

"Unhappy reading, to say the least."

Pretty frustrating in light of the fact that Cameron was down there at the weekend seeing what is happening on the ground, and will no doubt as a constituency MP effected be dealing with the aftermath on a daily basis for months to come.
Personally if I was Brown I would not take too much comfort from the media glow of the last couple days but would wait until the reality really hits and this government has to deliver on its promises effectively and efficiently which is not their strong point.

That really will be tragic because what these people need is a government strong on competence and delivery, and instead what they have is Labour which if we go on their past record are strong on rhetoric but sod all else!

Rightly are wrongly my esperience is that the average voter does not care so deeply about issues of international development as they do about what is happening in their own backyard.

It's exactly the same sort of argument that the voters who didn't want to admit voting Tory in 92 but did, because they were concerned about their own back pocket.

Highlighting what is happening in Rwanda is obviously right - but will 300,000 people without water, or those in Gloucestershire about to lose their electric really thank the leader of the opposition for taking such a trip?

'Tanuki', are you always that cynical, or were you just making a special effort for your 20.47 comment?

You don't have to be an idealist like myself to appreciate that there is a world beyond Westminster, Washington DC and Brussels and senior politicians should be commended for taking a genuine interest in, and drawing wider attention to, serious global issues.

This was a pre-arranged trip, the Global Justice policy group is reporting tomorrow and what exactly would David Cameron have achieved by staying here and sloshing around in his wellies?

The same people that have criticised David Cameron for visiting Rwanda would find another reason to criticise him if he hadn't gone - honestly, some contributors to this site are more pig-headed than Kermit the Frog's girlfriend sometimes.

"Highlighting what is happening in Rwanda is obviously right - but will 300,000 people without water, or those in Gloucestershire about to lose their electric really thank the leader of the opposition for taking such a trip?"

I find that argument really annoying when the devastation and plight of these people is going to require a long term commitment from all MP's with constituencies in the effected areas and the government.
David Cameron as one of the MP's is going to be facing the problems in his own constituency regardless of being Conservative leader for months.
But I know one thing, if Cameron is going to be a possible future PM he better be able to juggle more than one ball in the air at any one time. Can you say that of Brown???
Thinking back to the horrific Tsunami in the Far East, did Blair even break off his family holiday???
No lets put our own leader down instead of backing him on keeping a long arranged commitment to commemorate and highlight the anniversary of the Rwanda genocide and also show the fantastic work being done by those Conservative members and MP's.
At the moment who would you rather was running this operation at home, Brown&Co or some of the MP's getting stuck in out there?

I noticed on some TV footage of the trip, Tobias Elwood plus saw/drill etc. Now he is not just mucking about, he is a highly skilled craftsman, as I saw when I was involved in the old church project at Bournemouth. They will leave some solid work behind them, so stop knocking it.

You may find that argument annoying and Im not saying its an argument I share, BUT its a viewpoint many people hold!

Saying that something is going to require a long term commitment I think could be just as easily applied to Rwanda couldn't it?

I personally am not saying Cameron is wrong - what I am saying is that many people may think his judgement was wrong.

There was a view that people used to think the Conservatives were only interested in "whats good for me". We had to show we are interested in "what's good for me and what's good for my neighbour".

Some people (and again I am not saying it is right) believe that if there is a domestic issue of importance - such as flooding, that perhaps that should take precedence over a long term international develepment issue?

Can you agree that some people will perhaps see it that way?

What an unbelievably depressing thread. Party Donor, you are a complete and utter idiot. Sam Coates stated quite clearly that everyone has paid there own way (£742 for the flight since you ask)and they are giving up two weeks of their own time to do good. Surely as Conservatives we ought to be proud of that. I know I am. One of the lobby hacks here has written tonight "These people are the true face of the Conservative Party". He's right, and to those who continue to express cynicism about this trip, shame on you.

"Can you agree that some people will perhaps see it that way?"

Jonathan, as I said in my two earlier posts I think that what people will see is whether individual MP's and collectively the government can deliver a fast, efficient and effective recovery programme.
To be quite honest I am at the point where I think that he was damned if he went or if he didn't and I bet the BBC coverage would have been no more favourable.
But if as usual the first people to question or criticise him are in his own party then that gives the story legs. How about doing the opposite and defending his visit to the floods over the weekend, highlight the fact that as a constituency MP he will be dealing with this daily long after Brown tries to distance himself of involvement or blame if these people don't get the care and help they need.
Finish up by pointing to the work being down in Rwanda by party members and the fact that Cameron is behaving like a PM rather than Brown who is not?
We have got to start having the guts and conviction to back our leader instead of being the first to question or attack him. Please look at how Labour have not done this very successfully to their own leaders in the last 10 years.

Who paid for Cameron and his entourage?

My house is flooded so I do not give a fig what smug Iain "Giz a seat despite North Norfolk" says.

I understand the worthy goals in going to Rwanda. But what is the point when the media portray these bold ideas in a negative fashion?

PR ideas like this just does not work when the media is out to get us.

BBC Newsnight only talk about Tory plots and the Mail's headline for tomorrow where Dacre is toiling away for his knighthood.

Also Mail columnist Littlejohn "Our country is suffering a major crisis, so why on earth is David Cameron in a Rwandan mud hut?"

Will Coulson please bring some realism to our PR.

Mail tomorrow headline with photo of Cameron on front page.

"1 million ....victims so where's the member for washed out Whitney?"

Dacre and his desperation for a knighthood are the brutal reality we have to deal with.

"Will Coulson please bring some realism to our PR."
Will our party please have some conviction and courage to back our leader which will deliver an even grittier realism to our cause than simple PR.

What strikes me as telling is that Iain who is currently in Rwanda can put the message across better than the party in one simple paragraph.

I agree people should do more to get a Conservative Government - but one of the first lessons of communications is knowing what the other side will throw at you and being able to counter that.

For the record my personal view is that you can highlight huge personal issues such as Rwanda whilst also being extremely concerned about the real domestic issues that many people are facing at the moment - they are not mutually exclusive. BUT you cannot and should dismiss the concerns of from one side of the debate.

For an individual family who has been flooded (and I have seen a few who suffered in Chesterfield from the water that came a few weeks abo - they will not care about Rwanda at this point in time - and frankly I don't think they should).

HOWEVER - it is quite right to be doing what we are doing at the moment over there. What I want to see is for the party to be more robust at backing something they know is the right think to do.

Tell people who can't spell Rwanda, let alone find it on a map or know about the issues WHY its important to be there and what is going on. That's the purpose of the trip surely, and to leave some sort of legacy for the future.

It should have read huge international issues not personal... d'oh.

At last Cameron has said it.
He travels all the way to Rwanda to tell us that people in Britain are worried about immigration, (thanks for telling us Mr Cameron!), but of course he makes no constructive comment about how we might solve the mess we are already in.
So sad.

Bradford Lad - he 'told' you last year. This trip has been planned for a long time as anyone who follows the party strategy would understand.

Perhaps you could make a 'constructive comment' hm?

"HOWEVER - it is quite right to be doing what we are doing at the moment over there. What I want to see is for the party to be more robust at backing something they know is the right think to do.

Tell people who can't spell Rwanda, let alone find it on a map or know about the issues WHY its important to be there and what is going on. That's the purpose of the trip surely, and to leave some sort of legacy for the future."
Jonathan, I agree wholeheartedly.

I am enjoying Dale's Rwanda dairy and suspect that it helped neuter some of the more vicious attempts to attack Cameron's trip to Rwanda even before the full enormity of the flooding materialised. Last week it was a PR gimmick with no mention of the fantastic work being carried out by those Conservative volunteers, this week it is being used yet again as a stick to beat Cameron for a different reason.
As for the Mail, I think that we need to do something about that asap because I think it is getting away with some pretty unfair attacks on our party recently.
How about challenging the fact that Cameron was there on the ground over the weekend but it took till Monday before Brown appeared, we need to use other media outlets or the internet more effectively to deal with this type of thing?

A real crisis building up with floods in England and Mr Cameron goes of to play pat a cake in Rwanda . Marvellous timing . Very sad about Africa but what does it have to do with hammering Brown .

Cameron should be at home shouting blue murder about the uselessness of the British government in dong anything much for English flood relief . If the floods were in Scotland there would been an immediate response with massive help of all kinds but because they are in England this government doesn't care less .
and they are getting way with it because because Her Majesty's Official Opposition is so neutered and hamstrung by a completely out of date interpretation of Union in which it is always England which has to pay the costs of Union .

Ah well , I suppose those 529 MP's for English constituencies in the British parliament are busying themselves with their expenses forms - easier than speaking up for those tiresome English
- the delights of Opposition eh !

The bruddy LibDems are providing more flak for the government than the Tories .

Now this isnt a thread on flooding - but I would hope we as a party would be coming up with something extremely robust along the lines of a Conservative Government WILL NOT allow development to take place on flood plains - something Yvette Cooper refused to rule out on today of all days!! That's the way you take the fight to this discredited Government!

If Cameron was my MP and went to Rwanda while my constituency was flooded (as in Witney) then I should want to de-select him.

I think his conduct appalling. Apart from the obvious - it shows a complete lack of judgement! Just how out of touch is he?

I am reminded of going to a meeting in Birmingham when Major was in office. I remember several people telling the minister present something along the lines of "for god's sake tell him he's got it completely wrong, we're heading for meltdown". They didn't listen then, they won't listen now.

I am beginning to wonder what is point in spending my time leafleting and canvassing for votes when Cameron's is losing more votes in the constituency than I could hope to turn around in a month of sundays.

Jonathan - I couldn't have put it better!

It's not an either-or - it is an "and" (the Editor would have been so proud of me, I'm sure!).

DC has been involved in the response to the flooding - perhaps it didn't receive coverage parallel to Brown's and we need to look at that, but Jonathan is right - this is important, and we need to not shy away from saying why we think it is right.

We also need to ensure that the Shadow Environment team is plugged in to the issues on the floods 24/7, while DC is multitasking on this and other issues as well - which would also be a bit of a contrast to Brown's government, where a boy named Hilary sits backs and demurs to GB over every question on his brief whilst Rome, er, floods...

For anyone who thinks that the timing of external events stinks in this, it doesnt stink half as badly as having your home fill up with sewerage-contaminated water whilst Mrs Balls proudly announces to Parliament another load of balls about building more homes on flood plains!

"Government WILL NOT allow development to take place on flood plains - something Yvette Cooper refused to rule out on today of all days!! That's the way you take the fight to this discredited Government!"

Jonathan, quite right! It is funny that the Mail chose the headline it did instead of more robust questioning of this policy or what has happened to funding of flood defences in real terms recently. In fact with everything going on and more misery to come with the weather later in the week it would seem that an agenda was focussed on rather than the facts?

Where was the Conservative spokeman to counter Phil "NUS" Woolas on Newsnight tonight?

Woolas was, according to the weak and clueless presenter, laughing while the film of flooded areas was shown. He then patronised the flood victim from Worcester.


Under normal circumstances I would find the trip to Rwanda a good thing - but being stuck here is soggy Gloucestershire with no water and the impending threat of no electricity I find the timing of this trip appalling. We face a possible humanitarian crisis here the like of which has not been faced in peace time and Mr Cameron has left the country. Thousands of homes and businesses flooded, tens of thousands are without water and many already have no electricity to boil water from the bowsers to make sure it is safe (with the threat of half a million people losing power) If the services go how will shops stay open to sell food? How will hospitals and old peoples homes cope? In a crisis like this we need leadership and we have not got it from David Cameron on this occasion. Instead we have Gordon Brown passing through in a helicopter between breakfast and his elevenses. The emergency services and volunteers on the ground have been absolutely amazing and deserve a medal but I am absolutely fed up by the political response.

Jonathan Sheppard,

Cameron went to Witney before he went to Rwanda. He saw the flood damage, didn't zoom over it in a plane like Brown.

Afterwards he went to Rwanda for a single night.

I am very glad to see ConHome supporting this. If you want "authenticity", this is authentic Cameron so do not complain when you get it!

To keep it in perspective - I imagine a lot of the people the trip is helping don't have enough water/electricity at all!

For what it's worth, the BNP are also moaning about Cameron leaving Oxfordshire for Rwanda.

Aside from weighing up what you think his priorities should be, wouldn't pulling out of visiting Rwanda altogether have been a far more politically damaging decision?

Well said Jonathan Sheppard.

Cameron's petulance is beginning to remind me of that other great Tory leader, John Major.

"wouldn't pulling out of visiting Rwanda altogether have been a far more politically damaging decision?"

No. Going makes him look like Blair: little interest in what happens on the home-front.

It's unfortunate timing that the trip has coincided with the floods and you can argue the toss about whether it should have been cancelled or postponed.

More to the point I think is that whilst such projects are extremely worthy, most people simply aren't interested and will view it as a PR stunt.

I'm pretty sure that across the country, if people were honest, they're worried about other things than the state of Rwanda. Sad, but a fact of life.

The photograph that DC presumably went to Rwanda to obtain may be viewed from the following link:


I am glad to see it has not yet received much press coverage as it should surely be considered a shameful episode by true conservatives. Just imagine the thought processes that had to be gone through for this bit of supposed positive PR.

The picture will be seen by many as an attempt to gain party advantage on the back of the most obscene massacre of recent years.

The arguments by Janet Daley yesterday in the 'Telegraph' to retain DC might stand up in normal politics. But with such tawdry gestures and the looming EU Constitution these are not normal times. Keeping Cameron in post will assure future such questionable moral gaffes as the election eventually approaches.

The floods should have provided an opportunity for wiser advice to prevail and the trip to be canceled. Littlejohn had started his attacks earlier and the web was alive with adverse comment. The fact it went ahead even when a golden opportunity had arrived to backtrack makes the whole Cameron team appear even less competent.

Surely there will now be enough Tory MPs feeling the same inner revulsion at this posturing by the grave of the slaughtered to force a contest for a new leader.

I see Cameron is getting some fabulous headlines (esp Daily Mail) this morning as he whoops it up on his latest freebie.

I've got a great line for Cam if he ever bothers to come back to drowning Britain where Brown and co are at least trying to look as if they are doing something.

"Crisis, what crisis"

"wouldn't pulling out of visiting Rwanda altogether have been a far more politically damaging decision?"

No. His constituency is flooded. His place is with his constituents. The Rwanda trip should have been cancelled - his credability has been severely damaged and his judgement shown to be lacking.

He is so out of touch it is reminiscent of Major.

I think there has been a real loss of perspective by some of the commentors here.

This may be a national crisis, but sadly it's one we an do little about. We need to wait for the water to subside before planning a strategy to ensure this never happens again.

Little could be done by Cameron if he was still present in Witney (And as others have pointed out he saw the damage long before Rown, and was actually on the ground, not in a helicopter). Visits by high profile politicians to disaster areas can actually do more harm than good, due to the media circus that innevitaly follows and gets in everyone's way.

Cameron is in Rwanda for 24 hours, observing the hard work being done by Conservative volunteers, he will then return to his constituency where he will be able to provide little in terms of immediate help. I imagine that a lot of posters here have offspring who have taken gapyears to do similar work - were they opportunistic weasels too?

Cameron is not the silver bullet, stop expecting him to be able to click his fingers and make the floods subside.

I am sorry the link in my earlier post was too long to function here.

Clicking my name below will take you to one of my blogs where a working link is in a copy of my earlier posting.

Martin Cole is right. This is a disgusting attempt to grab publicity by manipulating the misery of others. "Aren't we such a caring bunch of politicos?". This crude stunt is stomach-turning in its cynicism.

Somebody mentioned a previous attempt to grab publicity by renovating a community building during conference week. Although in no way as mindbogglingly offensive as te Rwanda shambles its a product of the same creepy mentality.

I regularly give substantial donations to charity, including Third World aid. Politicians on the other hand spend most of the time helping themselves and polishing their images. Just because they decided to polish halos for a few days nobody is going to be impressed by their hypocrisy.

I certainly wish I were a member of Cameron's constituency because I would be calling for the immediate deselection of this arrogant pipsqueak.

As has been said David Cameron has already been to see the damage caused by the floods and demanded the government explain why they cut the flood defence budget.

Now to all those who say the public don't care about Africa, ask yourself why the British people give so much money to charities that give aid to some of the poorest countries in Africa? or why the Making poverty history campaign was so well supported. Today sees the publication of the Conservative Party's global poverty report and personally If David Cameron is going to talk about Africa I want him to have seen what life is like there for himself.

Sadly he looks more foolish every time he defends himself and the Rwanda enterprise.

The medium is the message. Standing in the sun defending the indefensible while Brown is shown shaking the hands of the people dealing with a national emergency is too powerful an image to dismiss.

As there is atill a vacancy at the World Bank perhaps he should cross the floor and go for it.

In any case the money men are already sending out the message on Today. To coin a phrase "no change no chance"

"Cameron is not the silver bullet, stop expecting him to be able to click his fingers and make the floods subside."

No one expects that. Going to Rwanda at this time is a big gaffe - look at the newspapers. This trip has lost the Conservative party votes. Not one person I have spoken to thinks it was a good idea.
The very fact that he went demonstrates he is not remotely in touch with the mood of the electorate.

Exactly which newspapers support Cameron? He has blown it.

This is a PR disaster. Someone should have been delegated to take DC's place on the Rwanda trip (Hague?). DC needed a much longer stay in the flood areas - first to show some genuine sympathy and concern over an extended period rather than a brief photo opportunity, and second to act, and be seen to be acting, as the people's champion against Labour failings - the inadequate historical spending on flood defences and now the intention to build thousands more houses on flood plains being just two of the open goals which seem to be largely ignored.

Given that one of the key objectives of the rebranding of the party has been to remove the perceived 'nasty party' image - does nobody at CCHQ understand that going to Rwanda when the number of people suffering from this disaster at home is well over 500,000 simply reinforces the old stereotype in the collective mind of the voting public? - DC's absence from the UK is a PR gift to Brown which is being maximised by the cartoons currently visible in the press - have you seen the one in the Guardian this morning? Is this really what we want the target voters to be shaking their heads at over their cornflakes?

Does anyone honestly believe that Alasdair Cameron would have allowed Tony Blair to fly to Rwanda with this level of devastation in England if he were in DC's shoes?

"Now to all those who say the public don't care about Africa, ask yourself why the British people give so much money to charities that give aid to some of the poorest countries in Africa?"

Those do-gooders don't vote for us and they're not going to in a month of Sundays. We're the Tory Party. Remember?

Charity begins at home.

Whilst memories of Jim Callaghan's ill-fated (for him)trip to the Caribbean no doubt cross some minds as Cameron visits Rwanda, we must also recall that the people of Rwanda have suffered terribly and we should be helping them. But if one puts the worthy issue of Rwanda to one side, Cameron's and his team's apparent zeal to capture the meretricious spirits of the age at every opportunity more often strikes me as both gauche and contrived.

Bill, agreed. And I think the bigger question we should be asking about Rwanda is - do we want to help them as the party of opposition or the party of government? Much more of this and I fear it's going to be the former for a long time yet.

Yorkshire post

Take a look at the political map of England. The South is painted blue virtually all over; the North is red and yellow.

The Conservative Party won 62 seats in the North in the 1970 general election. Some 37 years later, and the Tories only hold 19 of the 162 northern constituencies.

In many constituencies, local party membership is less than 50. Since the mid-1990s, Conservative associations in this region have been in a state of apparently terminal decline, the forgotten relics of a party with a myopic focus on the South.

Edward Young, from York, was research assistant to Lord Hurd of Westwell on his biography of Robert Peel. He is co-authoring with Lord Hurd a book on the lives of 10 Foreign Secretaries.
Last Updated: 23 July 2007 9:33 AM

Just heard someone called Phil Hazell interviewed on TV talking about Councillor Adam Tugwell delivering bottled water completely unexpectedly and helping them enormously in Tewkesbury.

That is superb for a Councillor to be so responsive. Excellent work !

I could barely watch Dave on the telly last night - even if he did mention the word "immigration" which is small step in the "right" direction. But who advised him to go to Rwanda when the biggest peacetime humanitarian disaster in living memory is developing back home in his own country? Sorry to say this but there are some serious idjits at the helm of the Conservative Party at the moment. First take a look at Dave sweating in a dark suit in the African bush banging on about how we've got to save Africa (i.e. pay more of our taxes to support gunrunners, slave captains and AK-47-toting gangsters). And then look at Gordon displaying great gravitas and concern with the emergency services in a flood command centre. If I was a floating voter (i.e. floating down the high street in Gloucester) I know who I'd vote for....

Ask yourself - where would Margaret Thatcher be Rwanda or Gloucester?

Cameron is a superficial politician who thinks to achieve power - all you have to do is string together the right photo opportunities...

Wrong - the electorate is apathetic but not stupid. The want firm policies and strong leadership in times of crisis.

Hague should have gone to Rwanda (he is perfectly capable) and "Ego-man" Cameron should have been here - pressing Brown about the floods and showing he is a Statesman in times of crisis.

"First take a look at Dave sweating in a dark suit in the African bush banging on about how we've got to save Africa (i.e. pay more of our taxes to support gunrunners, slave captains and AK-47-toting gangsters). And then look at Gordon displaying great gravitas and concern with the emergency services in a flood command centre."

First look at Dave, spending three days on the ground, with his wellies on, speaking to people and criticising the government's response. Then look at Gordon, deigning to fly over the affected areas, looking down for the cameras from his comfy perch.

I know which one I'd vote for.

on TV talking about Councillor Adam Tugwell delivering bottled water completely unexpectedly and helping them enormously in Tewkesbury.

Wow, so the really are some Conservatives who care about their constituents instead of going for international photo opportunities!

Mr. Tugwell is certainly no heir to Blair! Kudos to him!

Seems I'm being censored. Not sure why I haven't said anything anyone else hasn't.

From The Sunday Times July 1, 2007

Labour plans flood defence cuts as Britain
(thats England actually) flounders in the deluge

Memo reveals Treasury pressure to save cash .
England's flood defence programme is facing funding cuts that could last until 2011, according to a memo sent by Environment Agency executives to senior staff last month.

The document, understood to have been prompted by demands from the Treasury, says flood defence plans might have to be pared back as the cuts take hold.

The memo, written despite high-level reports warning that Britain’s flood defences are in a parlous state, could prove deeply embarrassing to Gordon Brown’s new government.

It is already facing accusations of political paralysis over ministers’ initial failure to respond to last week’s disastrous floods, which left at least five people dead and thousands with flooded homes.

The memo was prompted by the government’s current comprehensive spending review, overseen by Brown while chancellor. It is not due to be formally published until the autumn but hints of what is in store are already sweeping Whitehall.

“Our planning assumption is that our resource settlement over the next three years will be flat cash in line with our current 2007-08 baseline (a real-time reduction in funding) with any growth limited to capital investment,” said the memo, headed “draft risk management planning guidance”.

It follows the worst summer-time floods to hit the country in recorded history. Besides the dead, at least 600 people were injured. About 3,500 people had to be rescued from swamped homes by emergency services. This weekend hundreds of families were still in temporary accommodation and emergency services were bracing themselves for more torrential rain.

Many believe, however, it is government ministers and local planners who should be bracing themselves for the real aftermath of the floods. They say the disaster is a direct result of the government and councils ignoring years of warnings about the danger of building on flood plains.

Among them are the residents of villages such as Catcliffe near Rotherham, one of South Yorkshire’s worst-affected villages, where John Potter, 54, a former council worker and his girlfriend Linda Pass, 43, a silverware assembler, were this weekend in temporary accommodation.

Potter is furious that when he bought his semidetached home five years ago there were no warnings that it might flood. He said: “We knew of the 2000 floods but there have been flood defence works since then and we were told to be confident when we bought the property.”

Britain has always been prone to flooding. Records kept at the national hydrological monitoring programme at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), show that Britain’s greatest river flood was in 1947, when a warm snap melted thick snow. The resulting floods covered an area 10 times greater than those of last week. Since then floods have hit the country many times, with some of the worst in 2000.

What has changed is the pattern of floods, according to Terry Marsh, who leads the CEH monitoring programme. “Winters are warmer so floods caused by snow melting don’t happen now,” he said. “What is unprecedented is so much rain in summer. Climate change is altering flooding patterns in a big way.”

Perhaps the most important change, however, is a human one. Since 1945, despite the known threat, politicians have allowed a surge of construction in Britain’s flood plains. Over the years there had been repeated warnings of the growing dangers but it was not until 2000 that a scientific group worked out the sheer scale of the risk.

“We presented a report to the then agricultural ministry warning that about 1.7m homes were at risk,” said Professor Paul Samuels, a leading hydrologist and technical director of HR Wallingford, a consultancy.

The Environment Agency has objected to tens of thousands of house-building proposals in recent years, but about 20% have still been approved. Its powers of veto were strengthened in January but it has come far too late according to critics. Among them is Jane Milne, head of property at the Association of British Insurers, who believes that firms might soon be forced to refuse cover to many householders.

Such problems are likely to accelerate largely thanks to John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister. One of his most controversial legacies is the communities plan of 2003, which contains blueprints for another surge of building on flood plains, including plans for 160,000 extra Thames estuary homes.

Such proposals illustrate just how low on the priority list flooding still lies. The government has told the Environment Agency it will accept such developments provided the risk is less than one major flood every century.

It sounds safe, but that was roughly the same as it was for Catcliffe.

By contrast, the Dutch will accept nothing less than a risk of a flood every 10,000 years, a standard enshrined in law.

Even London, home to Britain’s greatest concentration of people and economic assets, only merits protection against a flood risk calculated at once every 2,000 years.

Why isn't Cameron jumping up and down and shouting the house down at the British governments pointed neglect of England . There is enough ammunition here to pound Brown - the man primarly responsible for the calculated discrimination against England - for months on end .

If the situation were reversed and it favoured Blair to attack , he wouldn't have hesitated . Time for a careful listing and analysis of all those mental rodblocks which make the Tory opposition so innefective

and the biggest roadblock of the lot is being so bewitched by the Union as never oppose 'cos that might rock the Union boat and that wouldn't do , would it !

Brown must be laughing whilst he does s-- all about the ( English ) floods .

I wonder how big a local work force they could have bought for 40 * £742, thus helping the local economy. Anyone knows?

"First look at Dave, spending three days on the ground, with his wellies on, speaking to people and criticising the government's response. Then look at Gordon, deigning to fly over the affected areas, looking down for the cameras from his comfy perch."

Yes, but as the crisis deepens Dave's still in Africa and Gordon is at home. What's more I have a sneaking feeling that the emergency services are going to do darned job over this one (unlike in New Orleans) and that Gordon will come out smelling of roses. It's an absolute scandal that Dave is still in Rwanda (he could have flown back last night and been back in his wellies by this afternoon). It all proves that Dave's PR team haven't got a clue.

I think this is a fantastic visit, and I think it is unfortunate that there is flooding at home but accept Cameron's point that he didn't want to let down the people in Rawanda at the past moment. This is a far braver position to take than just rearranging the diary and going to Tewksbury for a news conference in a puddle. I dodn't accept the comments that Africa doesn't matter, any humane civilised society worth its salt would get involved in selfless causes to help others less fortunate. Those that don't are usually totaltarian states.

...however what is happening regarding Sudan? People are flooding over the border now and this is years after the crisis began. 'We should do all we can' comments from politicians are just hot air. If the African Congress cannot stop the genocide, which it can't despite some good intentions, we should get directly involved.

"(he could have flown back last night and been back in his wellies by this afternoon). "

And done what? He's already been around the constituency. Doing it again would look aimless.

He kept his commitment to the Rwandans (so much for the notion he doesn't stand by his commitments), and will be back in time to put serious questions to the Government. Until then, there is nothing he could do, other than to let the emrgency services get on with it.

Attacking Cameron for going to Rwanda during the floods is fatuous - as others have said, what could he do? He has already visited the affected area and attacked Brown for cutting the flood defence budget.

More importantly, the Rwanda trip is a mistake because we should be scrapping International Aid completely not increasing it.

It creates a situation similar to "welfare dependency", it enables those countries to avoid grappling with the political, social, and economic conditions. When foreign aid becomes a significant part of a nation's income, the result is likely to be waste, corruption, rent-seeking, and indefinite postponement of needed economic and political reforms. All that interest free money flowing into a small economy increases inflation and plays havoc with currency exchange rates.

Africa has received some $600 billion in foreign aid since 1960, yet most African nations are poorer today than they were then.

"Attacking Cameron for going to Rwanda during the floods is fatuous - as others have said, what could he do?"

Make sandwiches and hand out food in a community centre? It would look a damned sight better than hobnobbing with a lot of ngo's on the take in Rwanda.

I think the criticism of Dave for visiting Rwanda has been a bit harsh - not because the whole project wasn't misconceived (it was), but because, once his group were committed to the visit, honouring his commitment was probably the lesser of two evils. We're running a poll at Picking Losers to see if that is a common view (I suspect not).

As for the invisibility of people like Peter Ainsworth, Eric Pickles and Caroline Spelman, who should be leading the attacks on the Government's handling of the floods, Dave must be wondering if he has made some serious mistakes in the recent reshuffle. Are they being ignored by the media, or are they not putting themselves about? As they haven't even got press releases about the floods on their own websites, I suggest the latter. Getting ready for the holidays or a putsch?

The EU's Directorate-General for Trade is responsible for an extensive range of trade agreements with third countries.

How does Tory policy change this?

"Oberon Houston - I think it is unfortunate that there is flooding at home"

Oh well that's decent of you "Oberon". Dave Cameron seems to have much the same idea. Ever heard of Marie Antoinette?

Just heard him on TV saying there's no home and abroad we're all the same. Well when the citizens of Africa pay the same taxes as I do to the British treasury I may agree with that.

Africa is a black hole of corruption and violence. How dare this inexperienced clown Cameron lecture us on what we should be doing there. Let him go out and work for Christian Aid if he really believes in that dripping wet tosh.

We have our own problems here and for most ordinary voters Africa is a non-priority.

Why as a party are we relying on Cameron to do everything? The party should be able to hold its own on any issue whilst the leader is away anyway.

But where in God's name is Peter Ainsworth, Caroline Spelman, the rest of the Shadow Cabinet and/or indeed Tory MPs for the constituencies affected?

The only people on the News channels are the government and the Lib Dems...

Ainsworth should have his Georgian throw-back mop on all the news channels, radio channels and in the papers, talking about the issue and the fact that flood protection was cut by £15m last year.

The organisation of flood defence has generally been a cock-up, the government did not heed information from the Met office rapidly enough - and the Conservatives are nowhere to be seen.

It's about time the Shadow Cabinet dropped their honoury directorships and lecture circuits and bloody well acted like Her Majesty's Officail Opposition.

Ainsworth appeared last night looking like some raddled old rock star with his wig on back to front. God knows what he was on about.

Meanwhile head-in-sands "loyalists" like Richard Carey should read the Telegraph blog on whether Cameron should go. It was about 95% in favour, which is pretty conclusive.

What some people don't realise is that when the fool addressed the Malawi parliament it was attended by about half-a-dozen MPs. Most of them didn't think he was worth hearing and they were right.

Then the lights went out while he was speaking. You couldn't make it up.

Cameron has been made to look a blithering idiot and the only person he has to blame is himself. He thought he could suck votes out of the misery of others. It's nauseating.

We've had enough. Get rid of him!

Sorry that should have been Rwanda not Malawi, not that it makes much difference.

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