The other day a post popped up in my Facebook feed promising to calculate what difference leaving the EU would make to my disposable income.
As someone with an MSc in European politics, the current debate (or lack of actual debate) on the UK remaining in the EU is particularly interesting - and, I think, very important to the future of this country.
Personally, I'm pro-Europe but I strongly believe that the issues are being poorly explained and that most people don't understand the implications of an out vote or indeed what the EU actually does.
So I clicked on the link with interest. The first question was "How many people are there in your household?" and the second was... well there wasn't a second question, entering where I live was option.
And yet this was enough for the "calculator" to tell me that my household would be worse off by several hundred pounds.
That may well be the case but I would take the word of something based on one question. Mine is a two person household but there are lots of different types of a two person household. two adults living in London will have different earning and spending patterns to a mother and baby in Durham or two pensioners in Belfast and they may have different spending patterns to another pair of pensioners three doors down.
The calculator was to me exactly the dumbed-down political scare tactics that make people distrust politics and with no evidence to explain the calculation also something that would do the In campaign more harm than good. A quick scan of the comments showed a large number on the theme of "plucking numbers out of a hat to scare people" - not exactly leading to better informed voters and informed debate then.
Disappointingly this calculator came from the Britain Stronger In Europe Campaign. This supposedly the major In campaign group and one that is making efforts to engage younger voters, but I don't have much hope if this is their approach.
I did contact the group (on the only email address I could find) with my concerns about the calculator but have yet to receive a reply.
If I do manage to open a dialogue (and I did tell them was broadly pro-EU) I may then also ask why it is called "Britain Stronger in Europe" rather than the more inclusive "UK Stronger in Europe" - it is after all the UK that is the member country.