European elections: Yorkshire and Humber region braced for surprises

Polling station sign Image copyright AP
Image caption Voters have seen have seen only two of the six Yorkshire and Humber MEPs elected in 2009 remain in their seats

The European elections have always had the ability to throw up surprises in Yorkshire and the Humber - and the 2014 polls are unlikely to disappoint.

Five years ago Labour took a beating and finished up with just one of the region's six seats. The Conservatives took two.

It was the first time Labour had been pushed into second place in Yorkshire and the Humber since the UK's European elections started to be held on the "regional list" system in 1999.

Votes are cast for a party then added together across the entire region with the seats shared out based on how much support they get.

Each party submits a list of up to six candidates ranked in advance by its members to decide who will take any seats it wins.

But there were more surprises with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) pushing the Liberal Democrats into a distant fourth place. They were allocated a seat each.

The biggest shock was saved for last. The British National Party (BNP) managed to scrape enough votes together to nose ahead of the Greens to take Yorkshire and the Humber's sixth seat.

Since then there have been squabbles, rows and splits which have left just Labour's Linda McAvan and the Conservative Timothy Kirkhope still in parliament representing the same party.

Tory Edward McMillan-Scott defected to the Liberal Democrats claiming the party's European Group had lurched too far to the right.

Liberal Democrat Diana Wallace stepped down on health grounds provoking a major row when it was discovered EU Parliament rules meant the seat, together with the salary and the perks, went to the second on the party list who happened to be her husband.

He eventually stepped back and a surprised Rebecca Taylor, third on the list at the election, suddenly became the MEP.

Image copyright PA
Image caption UKIP leader Nigel Farage chose Sheffield to launch its national campaign

Godfrey Bloom and the other UKIP MEPs parted company in spectacular fashion.

His public outbursts on issues such as the role of women in society and how Britain should not give financial support to emerging nations such as "Bongo Bongo Land" sealed his fate.

He now sits as an independent and has been dropped as the party's lead candidate this time around.

Despite those embarrassing incidents UKIP party leader Nigel Farage thinks the party is on such a roll that it can still do much better in the region and chose Sheffield to launch its national campaign.

Its new lead candidate, Jane Collins, stood for the party in both the Barnsley and Rotherham by-elections, coming second both times.

Labour's losses five years ago were against a domestic backdrop of the fag end of an unpopular Gordon Brown government. It expects to do better this time. Linda McAvan heads the party list again.

With the promise of a referendum on our EU membership if more favourable terms cannot be renegotiated, the Conservatives believe they can retain both the seats it won last time. Timothy Kirkhope returns again as lead candidate.

The Liberal Democrats have had a disastrous few years at the ballot box since Nick Clegg led it into the Coalition Government. It leaves the party's former Conservative lead candidate Edward McMillan-Scott with a mountain to climb.

The BNP is highly unlikely to repeat its success of 2009. The party has splintered over the past two years. It will be putting up a full list of candidates list, but Andrew Brons, who took their seat, will not be on it. He is one of the many who is no longer a member.

Image caption Labour's Linda McAvan is one of only two Yorkshire and Humber MEPs representing the same party since the last election in 2009

The Greens, routinely the bridesmaids in Yorkshire and the Humber Euro elections, are hoping that high-profile Huddersfield councillor Andrew Cooper, will finally steer them over the line.

The English Democrats; the left-wing NO2EU and disaffected former UKIP supporters, confusingly calling themselves "An Independent from Europe", are also fielding full lists of six candidates each.

The polling card will also include a new party called Yorkshire First, which will have just three candidates.