Nigel Farage says Ukip will this year "shake up" British politics. He has reason to be confident, for figures show that his party has increased its membership by nearly two thirds.
The Ukip leader knows that the "crisis of powerlessness for the Coalition", as he calls it, is an opportunity for his party to top the polls in May's European elections.
He knows too that a strong showing in the election will cause a huge shake-up in Britain's three main political parties. And that is the cause of his optimism. He told The Daily Telegraph recently: "In May of this year, I shall do everything possible to turn the election for the European Parliament into a quasi-referendum on EU membership and expect an electorate frustrated with the present and hopeful of future change to come out in great numbers to vote for Ukip."
His comments come as figures show that Ukip finished 2013 with 32,500 members – up from 19,500 at the start of the year. That contrasts with dwindling grassroots support for the Conservatives and Labour. Conservative constituency membership has almost halved since David Cameron became leader in 2005 – from 253,600 to just 134,000. And while Labour's membership rose significantly when Ed Miliband became leader and remains above its 2009 level, it has steadily slipped back to 187,537.
The Liberal Democrats say a rise in new members in the final quarter of the year was proof of a "feel-good factor". However, its total of around 43,000 remains more than a third lower than the 65,000-plus levels it enjoyed before joining the Conservatives in coalition government in 2010.
A think-tank in September warned that the Conservatives could have fewer members than Ukip within five years unless the Tory leadership fixes its "broken" relationship with grassroots activists. The Bow Group warned that the Tory party could cease to exist altogether within a quarter of a century if the trend continues.
Meanwhile, a bullish Mr Farage is also hitting out at the Government's "intolerable" immigration policies, claiming it will lead to a surge of votes for his party in May's European Parliament elections. We suspect he may be right. He is playing simple, direct politics and it chimes with many voters.
The risk in his high-tempo approach? Voting for Ukip could derail Britain's economic recovery because businesses could stop investing in the UK, say the three main parties. That is the crux of the debate – it is one of the most important in domestic politics right now.