Last week UKIP came second in the Hampshire seat of Eastleigh with 28% of the total votes cast, their best ever result. Their success has enabled populist party leader Nigel Farage, whose pithy quotes have made him a media darling, to put the question of Britain's membership of the EU centre stage and to provide 'policy solutions'.
What does this growing trend towards support for UKIP mean to British Influence, both as a campaigning organisation and as a concept?
As an organisation it is galvanising. Nigel's attempts to cast Britain as a country whose global ambitions are frustrated by the bureaucratic and protectionist instincts of continental Europeans is gaining support. But leaving the EU would not be an economic liberation. It would resolve none of the domestic failings that are the main constraints on Britain's long-term growth. It would do little to lighten the regulatory burden on British business. And it might well leave the UK more closed to the outside world, not less.
UKIP wants to cause a "political earthquake" next year by getting the biggest share of the vote in European Parliament polls. With your help we aim to stop that earthquake. You will hear more about our plans in the coming weeks to continue the battle for Britain to lead not leave the European Union.
This week we will examine what British influence looks like and how it can be promoted in and through the EU. We will look at this influence through the policy concepts of power and growth.
National security and energy security remain important factors in terms of the British national interest. The rise of Russia into a fully-fledged energy state and the Islamic fundamentalist turbulence in the gas-rich deserts of North Africa point out the challenges ahead, where we will continue to need European alliances and common purpose.
Any further cuts to UK's defence spending, as the Defence Secretary has warned, will lead to a loss of the UK's armed forces capability (and UKIP's promise to raise defence spending by 40% as well as build a fleet of nuclear power reactors based on "£120bn a year" savings from leaving the EU would be funny if it was not so dangerously seductive).
The fact is in the future – as Mali is showing – we need to work increasingly with France and other military allies in the European Union such as Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Holland and others to co-ordinate our defence spending and our security strategy.
Whilst such alliances may be bilateral, there is also a need for increasing collaboration within the broad umbrella of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Our membership of the EU and our work within the CSDP is key to building trust and solidarity with our European allies and enabling our security vision to be enacted.
Britain leaving the EU would damage it; so why should other member states help us in the future when our foreign policy is so destructive? Yet, that is where UKIP would take us based on ill-founded domestic prejudice, climate change denial and the entirely false premise that leaving the EU will make us suddenly and permanently rich.
There is though clearly a need to revitalise the single market and prove its continued worth for the UK. We must not forget the role it has played in UK growth over the last 40 years but we must not rest on laurels either. The balance of competences review (we had over 60 inputs from our supporters during the course of last week) will inform this debate and should provide the UK the empirical ammunition it needs to continue to push for growth-driving single market reforms with our allies in Europe.
As we recently suggested, and as backed by Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, there may be also be an urgent need to expand aggregate demand in all EU countries to boost GDP growth.
And with the current prospect of the US-EU free trade agreement (FTA), the UK would be foolish to leave the EU at this point in history.
The United States and the EU already maintain a total of nearly $4 trillion in investment in each other's economies, supporting nearly 7 million jobs.
A successfully negotiated EU-US FTA would aim to tackle costly "behind the border" non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade, thus promoting the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprise and stimulating economic growth in Britain.
The counter argument from UKIP, which styles itself the free trade party, of a "low tariff world" is not a likely short or medium term outcome. There has been no multilateral agreement to reduce tariffs since the Uruguay Round was concluded in 1994, not long after the Single Market came into operation in 1993.
Recent reductions in tariffs have arisen through Free Trade Agreements, but the UK would not be covered by the EU's FTAs were we to leave and it would take many years before it could negotiate and implement its own FTAs.
Put simply, a UK-US FTA is not high up on President Obama's shopping list for his second term in the White House but he would like to see the UK drive forward the EU-US FTA as key partners and that means securing the best terms for British national champions and the British approach to liberalised markets with proportionate social protection.
Tomorrow Lord Hannay will explain his concept of a positive British policy towards Europe.
Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "What we're saying to people and what we're putting in front of them is a common sense idea of how we should control our borders, of what our relationship with Europe should be, of what we should be doing about the looming energy crisis. Actually people vote for UKIP because they see us offering policy solutions."