‘Why are you actually here?’: Ed Miliband just latest political wally in wellies to tour flood-struck Britain

After politicians were dubbed 'flood tourists', David Cameron insisted he always tries to make sure his visits are 'for a purpose'

They are trying to look like they are at the forefront of the UK’s crisis response – but politicians visiting flood-hit areas seem only to be getting in the way.

Increasingly met with anger from local residents calling for soldiers rather than sound-bites, the likes of David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Philip Hammond and Nick Clegg have all been pictured donning wellies in recent days.

Yesterday morning the Defence Secretary, Mr Hammond, was ensnared live on TV by a furious resident of Wraysbury, Berkshire, who asked just what it was he could offer to do while there.

Apparently undeterred, the Labour leader, Mr Miliband, appeared no more than a few hours later on a trip to see victims of the flooding in Purley on Thames.

He was promptly confronted by Alok Sharma, the Conservative MP for Reading West, who asked: “Why are you actually here?”

While visiting Wraysbury later Mr Miliband said it was “a difficult decision for politicians whether to visit areas like this, but I feel people have been welcoming and I can take their concerns back to Westminster.”

In a press conference last night called to address the flood crisis that has hit southern Britain, the Prime Minister warned of disruption and property damage that will last for a “depressingly long period of time”.

And while he was invited to make no-doubt welcome pledges that “money is no object” in terms of spending on relief efforts, it was also put to Mr Cameron that he was better off leading action in Westminster than becoming the latest so-called political “flood tourist”.

“I always make sure my visits are for a purpose,” he said. “I try and get the balance right.”

The Prime Minister has cancelled a planned trip to the Middle East so that he can continue to “lead the national response” to the floods, and proclaimed that 1,600 soldiers had already been deployed - later corrected to 600.

According to reports in the Telegraph, when a journalist asked a resident of the Somerset Levels if it “meant anything” to them that the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was visiting, she replied: “No. Nothing whatsoever.”

Last week, the under-fire Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith made perhaps the most calamitous visit to the floods of all.

He received what was described as a “frosty reception” in Somerset, and after a subsequent Newsnight appearance an MP in the county launched a furious attack on the peer.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said he had signed a petition calling for Lord Smith to be sacked and asked: “How did he come across to you? Smug? Arrogant? Self-satisfied? Or all three?”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore