‘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?”

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

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

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London