Labour right to be in a panic over Water Tax as electoral slaughter looms

Responding to the ongoing speculation and mixed messages from the government and other quarters about how much we will be asked to pay for the water tax, Joe Higgins TD said:

The Labour Party is in an obvious panic over water charges looming large as the Local and European Elections approach. They are  right to be. Labour’s infamous ‘Tesco’ Ad during the 2011 General Election Campaign specifically named a Fine Gael water tax of €238 per annum as  one of the key things they would stop if in government. Their betrayal on this will cost them dear.

Electoral slaughter looms for Labour in the Local and European Election as this new ‘banker/bondholder tax’ will be bitterly resented by ordinary people on top of all other austerity measures.

It is quite significant that it was Minister Brendan Howlin who this morning on way into Cabinet baulked at the idea that water tax levels would be decided today. Mr Howlin was Minister for the Environment during the mass campaign of Boycott and active opposition which forced him to announce abolition of Water Charges in December of 1996.

 Michael O’Brien of the Socialist Party and the Anti Austerity Alliance said:

The government are at sixes and sevens over the water tax because they are already feeling the anger of people on the door steps over this imposition.

People have not forgotten the experience of the bin tax were we were lied to over the message of ‘you only pay for what you throw away’, which was the then equivalent of the ‘pay by use’ message we hear today with the water tax. Likewise with the now extinct waiver system for the bin tax and the promises of generous free allowances with the water tax.

By back-tracking on the estimate of the standing charge from €100 to €50 and hinting at other concessions to households with children or people with certain illnesses the government is trying perversely to turn this into some kind of good news story.

These media manoeuvres are a testament to the anger that is out there. The Anti Austerity Alliance candidates running across the country call on people to use the election to undermine the water tax. The AAA candidates can be a lightning rod for anger on this and ongoing austerity. Our engagement with people over the next five weeks will be as much about organising a campaign of resistance, as it will be about winning council positions that will be used as a platform for that same struggle.