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Page last updated at 07:37 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 08:37 UK

UKIP …the comeback kids?

Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Politics Show Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

The United Kingdom Independence Party came from nowhere to take their first European Parliament seats in 2004.

UKIP came from nowhere to take their first European Parliament seats in 2004. Can they repeat that success in 2009?

Can they repeat their success this time around?

Godfrey Bloom is the most unlikely politician. His battered, middle- aged face, boundless schoolboy humour and total disregard for political correctness would see him shown to the door at the first candidates' selection meeting of virtually every party.

But this is UKIP where the party's launch of its 2009 campaign for the Yorkshire and Humber region included an invitation for the reporters to "retire to the nearest pub".

In 2004 Godfrey Bloom shouldered aside the three national parties and grabbed enough votes to become the first Member of the European party in the Yorkshire and Humber region who wasn't Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat.

Kilroy was here

But UKIP gained a "not-so-secret" weapon in the run up to the 2004 election. BBC daytime chat show host Robert Kilroy-Silk announced he was going to stand for the party in the next-door region of the East Midlands which includes Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Robert Kilroy-Silk
Robert Kilroy-Silk: grand falling out

The "Kilroy effect" tipped an anti-European Union ground swell from which UKIP was already benefiting into success at the polls.

UKIP came within a whisker of pushing the Conservatives into second place in the popular vote in the East Midland.

It was enough for the party take two of the region's five seats, including one for Robert Kilroy-Silk himself.

Next door in Yorkshire and the Humber UKIP were narrowly pipped for third place by the Liberal Democrats- but with enough votes for the party to win one of the region's six seats.

Only show in town

Arch anti European Unionist Godfrey Bloom was on his way to a seat in the European parliament.

Even he admits he thought that improbable when he stood as a "protest" candidate.

Ironically, it was the European Union's political system which allowed UKIP to take its seats. The traditionally British "first past the post" system isn't used.

The election is run on the Proportional Representation system with seats being awarded in each region based on the share of the popular vote gained by each party.

So UKIP won a seat with just over 14% of the vote in Yorkshire and the Humber.

In the East Midlands 26% of the vote saw the party allocated its two seats.

Political statisticians say that UKIP will have to win at least 11% of the vote this time around to be sure of a seat in these two regions.

Following 2004?

Robert Kilroy -Silk had a spectacular falling out with the party within months of being elected. He joined the breakaway Veritas party.

He now sits as an Independent. So no "Kilroy Silk factor" this time around.

UKIP itself has failed to make any impression at the polls at any other level.

It has neither Westminster MPs, County nor District Councillors in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire or the North Midlands.

At the same time, the scramble for a share of the votes from other small parties is likely to be much hotter.

Greens gaining ground

The Greens did disastrously in 2004 but have been gaining ground ever since. The BNP and English Democrats are both standing on an anti-EU ticket.

So can UKIP do it again? Even the exuberance of Godfrey Bloom shows its serious side here.

"Well, it will be tough. But they said we couldn't do it in 2004 and look what happened", he says.

"When it comes to the issue of Europe we are the only show in town. People believed that last time.

"And nothing much has changed as far as I am concerned"

The Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands takes a look at the prospects for UKIP and the other smaller parties in advance of the June ballot for the European Parliament.

Clare Frisby presents The Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands Sunday from 1200 on BBC One.

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