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Why remainers should keep the faith and vote Labour on Thursday

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Legend has it that a group of Liberal Democrats on the Isle of Wight once exercised their democratic right by putting the CND logo on their ballot papers rather than a cross. It was meant as a protest vote – though confusingly, one that was unrelated to nuclear disarmament. It is true that you don’t have to make your mark with a cross. In another episode involving Lib Dems, the party successfully argued that a voter who depicted male genitalia in their candidate’s box was nevertheless intending to cast a vote for them. That story has the benefit of being verifiable: the CND signs, unfortunately, not so much. I dredged though newspapers back to 1983, harassed academics, and dug into the annals of Isle of Wight politics, all to no avail.

Why, you might ask, in the lead-up to elections that the far right is already visualising as a famous victory, did I fritter my energy away in such idle research? Utter frustration had a lot to do with it. Because imagine what the European elections would look like if you could signal – whichever party you voted for – that yours was a remain vote. Maybe it could be done through placing a star instead of a cross on the ballot paper. Or “a B with a cross through it”, as someone suggested to me, on the grounds that “nobody knows how to draw a star”.

This would have been game-changing for Labour voters, who could have supported the candidates they believed in without the threat of their vote being interpreted, post hoc, as a call to “get on with Brexit”. It could have galvanised the not insignificant body of Conservatives who are pragmatic remainers, and have thus been denounced as traitors by the suddenly dominant extremists within their........

© The Guardian