Reading West MP Alok Sharma launched the stinging attack during the Labour supremo’s whistlestop tour of flood ravaged Purley - labelling the visit nothing more than a “photo opportunity”.

In a breathtaking tirade against the Doncaster MP, Mr Sharma said: “The issue Mr Miliband is why are you actually here? Because what I’m hearing from local residents is that they’re not actually interested in people just coming in for a photo opportunity, talking about local issues when they don’t know what’s been going on locally so I wish you’d done a bit of homework before you turned up here.”

Putting an arm on his adversary’s shoulder, Mr Miliband replied: “My suggestion today is that we work together because this is not about politics today this is about working together for the people of your constituency and the people across the country who need help.”

Several top politicians have fallen prey to high profile flood gaffes in recent weeks - Environment Secretary Owen Paterson was ridiculed for arriving in flood stricken Somerset without Wellington boots and Environment Agency boss Lord Smith was branded a “coward” during a visit to the county by its local MP.

Labour campaigner Victoria Groulef defended Mr Miliband’s visit, saying she asked him to tour the stricken village after a neighbour challenged her to ensure its problems were “heard at the highest level”.

She added: “I’ve been on the receiving end of flooding in my house and I know what that feels like - I know what it’s like to be worried about insurance and to see your life floating around in front of you. I wanted our Labour leader to see how bad it is for people.

“We’ve got to do something - whatever people want we’ve got to do it - and that message is so much more powerful if the person with the most influence in the party sees it for themselves.”