It has been a very good week at the European Parliament – and you won’t hear me saying that very often!
•For the first time our new cohort of 24 MEPs got together in Brussels. It was quite a sight for me.
When I arrived for my first day, some 15 years ago, I was one of only three UKIP representatives.
The bureaucrats did not know what to make of us, other than to treat us as a curiosity to be patronised and as a source of amusement.
Well, as Bob Monkhouse used to say, they’re not laughing now!
This time UKIP is the largest British delegation at the parliament and in fact the largest single party delegation from any country other than Germany, which sends many more MEPs than the rest of us because of the size of its population.
Now that Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star movement that campaigns for direct democracy in Italy has decided to sit with us, we are well on our way to forming a powerful group in the parliament.
Negotiations with other potential partners continue, so watch this space for further updates.
The delight for me is not just in the number of UKIP MEPs who have arrived to fight for the cause of getting out Britain of the EU.
It is also in their quality and their attitudes. It is hardly a secret that previous UKIP delegations have contained many more than their fair share of high maintenance individuals.
Far too many of them have proved impossible to work with over the years and have stomped off to pursue personal agendas.
I told the UKIP MEPs in my opening remarks to them this week that politics is a team game. As I looked around the room, I am delighted to report that I saw several benches full of team players looking back at me.
This has already allowed me to hand over leadership of the UKIP delegation in the European Parliament to Roger Helmer.
For the first time in many years I was able to sit among the throng as Roger chaired his first meeting. Roger is a massively experienced political campaigner equipped with admirable leadership qualities. I am thrilled to have him running our Brussels operation.
This will free me up for the enormous political task in hand: to prepare UKIP to fight a general election in Britain next spring.
A lot of work is already going on honing policy ideas to be unveiled at our party conference in Doncaster in September. Also, I have begun to allocate frontbench spokesman duties among the leading party lights.
I have never had anything like this much talent available before, but I am also aware that I am asking big things of the people who will take responsibility for key policy areas.
We will be setting out common sense policies on health, schools, tax, transport, international aid, law and order and much else besides.
Where the European election campaign was very much spearheaded by me as the very well known face of UKIP, by the time the general election campaign gets underway, I believe we will have established in the public mind a formidable team of people across all the major policy areas.
No longer are our rivals going to be able to say that UKIP is a one man band. In fact the use of the word “man” in that phraseology is already redundant.
I can already see that our UKIP women MEPs – and we have seven of them – are going to be a tremendous resource for the party. Each was selected and elected on merit. No quotas or assisted places are necessary in my party for women to reach senior positions.
Our UKIP women have already been active on the broadcast media, with Jane Collins and Margot Parker appearing on the BBC’s Daily Politics since the European elections and Louise Bours having done Question Time. That does not yet make them household names. To become really well known takes time and dedication.
I remember my own breakthrough as a national political figure very well. I had done lots of television and radio appearances – mainly regional south-eastern ones in those early days - and yet very few people in the street knew who I was. Then suddenly one day I recall going into a shop and everybody seemed to know who I was and it’s been like that ever since.
I could not point to any particular media slot that had tipped the balance, it was just an accumulation of appearances that had built my profile.
So prepare to see a lot of our UKIP MEPs over the coming months. I shall be watching with interest to see how they get on. New voices, new faces and more policies for UKIP are coming.
I am like the lucky general who is able to welcome powerful reinforcements to the battlefield at exactly the right time.