With the UK general election only a year away, who is winning the political debate?
I differ from many people, who say that all politicians are corrupt and are only in it for themselves. In my experience, most politicians are in fact honest and believe in what they're doing.
Listening sometimes to Ed Miliband speaking, I do wonder how he, anymore than David Cameron, can really understand the ordinary working people in the UK? After all, neither came form 'ordinary' working stock. Ed's father, Ralph Miliband, was a Professor at The London School of Economics and an Academic Marxist thinker who, in my opinion, had little in common with a fork lift truck driver from Derby or a labourer from Liverpool. David is from even posher stock.
Nigel Farage is gaining support because he seems to have the 'common touch'. He likes beer, smokes and tells it exactly as he sees it. People like that trait which is why so many conservative voters have already defected, and why many Labour and Liberal ones appear to be following too.
I remember when Margret Thatcher came to power in 1979. My Dad still lived in the one bed council flat we used to share when I was a boy. He was in his 70s so I used to visit him a couple of times a week to make sure he was ok and to take him out for a beer.
Although I had moved on in my life, I still knew many people living in the tenements that were part of my Dad's immediate environment. I was busy building my business so couldn't really be bothered with politics, but could feel something in the air. Ordinary working people, and even those on benefits, were beginning to get behind a movement. That movement became known as Thatcherism and was led by someone never before seen in British politics at that level, a woman.
Like her or loathe her, Margret Thatcher galvanised opinion much in the way Nigel Farage is doing today.
Unlike Lady Thatcher though, Farage has even more of a 'common touch'. Thatcher was seen as intellectually above most people. Her 'very posh' sounding voice needing adjustment to make her more acceptable to the general public. Farage on the other hand is seen as, 'sort of posh', but in a very ordinary way. Much more like a small town solicitor. This makes him a tough competitor for our current crop of 'career politicians', who are often considered out of touch with ordinary people.
I have met many leading politicians in my life, from all parties, including many ministers, and one or two Prime Ministers despite avoiding politics where possible. None have been more passionate than Nigel Farage, who I had lunch with in The Guinea Pub, Bruton Street, off Berkley Square in London a while back. We were joined by Stuart Wheeler the current Treasurer of UKIP and my son, Leon.
Farage made a strong case for us to join UKIP, but then we have also been pitched by the Conservatives, Labour, and The Lib Dems with equal fervour. Have we joined any of them? No. Not yet anyway.
My problem is that I see good and bad in all their policies. I am as passionate about enterprise, and developing an enterprise culture, as Nigel is about leaving Europe, Ed is about balancing the cost of living, or David is about improving the NHS.
It is my belief that for a society to be truly stable it requires two fundamental requirements to be fulfilled. Firstly a proper home for all its citizens and secondly a job or business to go to which produces enough income to sustain a modern family.
Unless these essential major requirements are met, democracy risks becoming unstable.
I don't think it particularly matters whether someone owns their home, or whether it is rented, what matters is that they have got a secure long term roof over their head. A home for life in other words.
The key is the phrase "long term". It builds stability.
Short hold tenancies, where a contract can run from six months upwards are great and allow people to let their homes, secure in the knowledge that they can get them back at the end of the tenancy.
This though is only half the story. We need a huge increase in housing supply across the board; including homes for sale, and homes for long term rental occupation. Not everyone can buy so we need to recognise this fact and address it by building 500,000 new homes for rent on lifetime tenancies. This building programme is becoming more urgent and needs addressing now.
The first politician to focus on creating the climate for that will get my vote.