Water charges reminds Labour of ‘Every Little Hurts’ stunt

Party’s pre-election advert has become a huge embarrassment, writes Harry McGee

Based on the Tesco advert and distorting its slogan into ‘Every Little Hurts’, the Labour Party highlighted six cuts and charges that would be imposed on citizens if Fine Gael was in Government.

Based on the Tesco advert and distorting its slogan into ‘Every Little Hurts’, the Labour Party highlighted six cuts and charges that would be imposed on citizens if Fine Gael was in Government.

 

The row between the Coalition parties over water charges has served as a reminder to Labour of a pre-election stunt that has become a huge embarrassment for the party.

In the last week of the election campaign in February 2011, when it looked just like Fine Gael might squeeze an overall majority, Labour published an election poster warning of a single-party government.

Based on the Tesco advert and distorting its slogan into ‘Every Little Hurts’, the Labour Party highlighted six cuts and charges that would be imposed on citizens if Fine Gael was in Government.

The first five were: a €50 hike in car tax; an increase in VAT to 23 per cent; a 1 per cent increase in duty on wine; a €252 decrease in annual child benefit for a family with two children; and a 3 per cent hike in DIRT to 30 per cent.

All of those have come to pass and with even more vengeance than predicted by Labour in 2011. Tax on wine has actually increased by €1.50 per bottle over the past two budgets and in the last Budget in October Minister for Finance Michael Noonan increased DIRT to a parsimonious 41 per cent, a whopping 14 per cent increase compared to 2011.

But it is the sixth item that may prove to be embarrassing for Labour this month. It also said that Fine Gael had planned to impose a water tax of €238 per annum.

How prescient that prediction was. The figure that was being pushed yesterday by Fine Gael, based on the annual subvention, was €240 per household, only €2 more than the figure that Labour warned about in 2011.

Opposition figures including Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party were pointing out the similarity last night and pointing out that all of the eventualities Labour warned about have not come to pass, irrespective of the involvement of the junior coalition party.

It was also been suggested that Labour sensitivities over the poster - and the uncannily accurate prediction of the annual cost of water charges - might have played a part in the Cabinet row.