National newspapers swung into action to address the UK flooding crisis yesterday with sandbags from The Sun and a petition from the Daily Mail urging foreign aid to be used in the UK.
Operation Sunbags saw staff from The Sun deliver 1,500 sandbags to flood-hit areas next to The Thames yesterday. Shortages of sandbags has been a major gripe from residents.
Some 500 bags were handed by The Sun in Wraysbury, Berkshire, and 1,000 in Colnbrook.
Childminder Jane White, 46, told the paper: “It’s more help than we’ve had from the council – they’ve been saying they are not responsible for giving out sandbags.”
The Daily Mail launched its online petition yesterday urging the Prime Minister to divert some of the £11bn spent on foreign aid to ease “the suffering of British flood victims, and to build and maintain flood defences to prevent a repetition of this crisis”.
Some 100,000 had signed by the time the Mail print edition went to press last night and this morning the total stood at 110,000.
In his first full UK press conference in 238 days yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I don’t think it’s needed to go for the aid budget because we will make available the money that’s needed here in Britain. We are a wealthy country, we have a growing economy. If money is needed for clean-up, money will be made available.”
But the Mail noted today that the UK sends millions in aid to flood-hit regions abroad such as Bangladesh and Mozambique.
It said in a leader column: “For dramatic proof that politicians have become utterly detached from the people they are supposed to represent, look no further than the overwhelming public support for this paper’s campaign to divert money from the overseas aid budget to deal with the floods at home.
“A poll for ITV News finds that a resounding three-quarters of the adult population back our proposal – including thumping majorities of every age-group and income bracket.
“And within hours of its launch, 100,000 had signed the Mail’s petition online yesterday, with tens of thousands more expected by post from today.
"Unlike the ethics of hanging or abortion, this is not an emotive matter for individual politicians’ consciences. This is simply the British people telling their Government how they wish their hard-earned money to be spent.
“Their money, mark you – not David Cameron’s, not the Coalition’s.
"Yet even as the signatures were pouring in, the Prime Minister showed himself stone deaf to the will of the people, flatly refusing to divert a penny of taxpayers’ cash from less urgent projects overseas.”