Over the last few weeks, many a column inch has been dedicated to the EU referendum. You won't win any prizes for predicting that many more quills will be blunted over the next 8 weeks as we get closer to referendum on June 23rd.
Among all the words being spoken, as well as written about the referendum there is the ever present discussion about the positivity, or otherwise, of the campaigns. My Facebook feed is a veritable cornucopia of people saying things "Why is it all just scaremongering?" or "When will they spell out the positive case?"
This has been brought into particular focus with Barack Obama's intervention, where he has made clear that the UK backing Brexit would put us at the back of the queue when it comes to negotiating any future trade deal with the US. It is a stark message that plays on the fear that has been the calling card of the Remain strategy thus far, a strategy that has attracted criticism for not doing enough to spell out the positive case for remaining.
Well, call me cynical, but I don't care about the positive case for the EU. You know why? Because I care about winning, and fear beats hope as a campaign strategy nearly every time.
In politics, there are no style points. You don't get credit for being nice. There is no 'fair play' award, designed to encourage friendliness and good sportsmanship. Politics is a brutal slog, the climax of which will be one side raising their arms in victory and the other lying bloodied on the canvas.
As a Liberal Democrat, I am far more used to staring groggily at the ceiling lights than I am to taking the roar of the adoring crowds, and I've got no desire to repeat it again, especially in a fight so crucial as this one. And therefore my interests about the campaign strategy extend to what will most likely lead to a win on June 23rd and not very much farther. And the evidence is clear; negative campaigning works.
Yes, the general public may say they hate it, but this is the same general public who routinely reward it. If you don't believe me, look at the major campaigns we've seen in the UK in the last 5 years.
Take the 'No to AV' campaign back in 2011. This was a campaign whose primary strategy was to point out how much AV was going to cost and warn us that by investing in it we might accidentally kill a child. They didn't care about telling the positive case. It was unashamedly negative, and they won in a landslide.
Fast forward to the 2014 Scottish Referendum. It looked for a brief period that the positive case might squeak through and deliver a vote for Independence. But again, the forces of negativity with their predictions of economic disaster and poverty for an independent Scotland won the day, albeit by a smaller margin than they would have liked.
And then take the 2015 General Election. The Conservatives ran a campaign focused on playing up the spectre of Miliband and Salmond as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde, a terrible twosome bringing destruction wherever they roamed. Just three weeks before polling day, the public perception was clear that the Conservative campaign was negative and dirty. And how did the public punish them for those crimes? By giving them a governing majority, obviously.
So I am pleased that the Treasury are delivering hard headed analysis about the dangers of leaving the EU. I am reassured that the case is being made that leaving the EU would make us less safe. It makes me happy when I see Brexiteers complaining that the remain campaign is just 'Project Fear.' Because they know the same truth that many political campaigners know; fear is a powerful motivator.
There are two months to go until polling day, and between now and then there will be lots of siren calls for the Remain campaign to 'go positive' and spend more and more of their valuable resource spelling out the optimistic case for staying in the EU, the story of sunlit uplands and a land of milk and honey.
If they care about winning as much as I do, they should ignore them.