‘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'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering