Jim Duffy: Is it time to disrupt politics at Holyrood?

Brewdog has gone down its own road, refusing to compete with the big names of the industry and carving its own niche. Picture: Contributed
Brewdog has gone down its own road, refusing to compete with the big names of the industry and carving its own niche. Picture: Contributed
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WHATEVER we may think of BoJo or The Donald, they do offer an alternative to the anodyne vanilla world of politics writes Jim Duffy

So the SNP have secured a third term. By all accounts this is pretty impressive. I’ve met the First Minister, an Ayrshire lassie, and while I always thought filling Mr Salmond’s shoes would be a tough gig, she hasn’t bothered. She just put his shoes on the back step to air and stuck on her own pair she had ready in a box.

I’ve met Mr Swinney too and he also impressed me. As leaders in a team, they work really well together and have great presence and humanity when you are with them – there’s personality there. Hold it… this is not a party political broadcast for the SNP. I’m just saying they have personality, both individually and as a team, and I kinda like the cut of their jib. I’ve met other political party operatives here in Scotland and in the UK and many have failed to make an impression on me. They’re vanilla, ordinary and lack depth. None more so than some of the local government leaders.

Which brings me to the London Mayor. I’ve been following the recent campaigns of Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan with interest. I’ve zero concern in which party they represent, but more in the person in front of me. Sadiq Khan wins hands down – personality and a human touch that engenders loyalty and support from those around him and those who meet him. A man of the people? Time will tell.

The discourse surrounding the London Mayoral election created a real buzz. I have no doubt that Boris Johnson has been a real catalyst in elevating this role into one of mini celebrity. BoJo’s use of the media and his wit, together with his oddly cuddly but sinister appearance, gained many supporters… as well as many dissenters (a wee tip: if you ever get into a London black cab, don’t mention the cycle super highway). Despite that, there is something a little magical about the role of London Mayor.

Which brings me to Scotland. Where are the Boris Johnsons and local leaders with clout and personality? There is something missing in Scottish politics in general. It’s become a wee bit boring and wee bit ordinary – unlike the US presidential election race where Mr Trump is certainly adding some vibrant colour.

In the world of entrepreneurship, some of the most successful entrepreneurs and companies are those that disrupt the status quo, disrupt the market and turn accepted thinking on its head. They change the debate by creating their own debate. The book Blue Ocean Strategy summarises this succinctly. One can either play in a bloody red ocean with loads of other competitors or one can move away and play in a cool blue ocean that you create and own. Disruption then becomes creation where new business models emerge, new ways of doing things impress and new leadership categories flourish.

A great Scottish example of this is Brewdog, with its effervescent leader James Watt. I’ve just finished his business book. It’s lively but reinforces why they have been so successful, by not trying to compete with the likes of Heineken or Innis & Gunn in their own backyard. Brewdog created its own blue ocean with its own products and fans – a classic example of success through disruption with a great team.

So, where is the new disruptor in Scottish politics? Could Edinburgh handle some disruption (not caused by trams)? Does the Scottish Parliament need some personality added to it? Could we handle a Boris-type character up here? I recall we used to have a few characters in Scottish politics, but I wonder if they were more about themselves than the policies that they appeared keen to explore. I always thought that the Greens would be more disruptive, but alas they’ve become more fruitarian than Venus flytrap. I guess I’m just disappointed and therefore maybe it’s time I practised what I preached and joined politics. Maybe it’s time to put my head above the parapet, declare that I want to lead my own party and just get cracking. Who’s up for it? Who will support me as we go forth, disrupt and create a new polemic?

Well actually, that might not be a bad idea seeing as I’m going to take this opportunity to announce that I am indeed stepping down from my role as CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark and moving to a new role as Head of #GoDo. My goodness, Entrepreneurial Spark certainly was and is disruptive and is now in the capable hands of my co-founder – Lucy-Rose Walker – the new CEO. Whoop whoop!! More to follow…

Getting back to politics and you and me leading our new movement – it would never work. What would be the point of us jumping into the bloody red ocean of Holyrood politics? We’d get eaten alive. We’d have to adhere to the rules and regulations, the bureaucracy, the tradition and the timescales. I’d have to keep my big gob shut when I heard people taking rubbish (actually I didn’t write the word “rubbish” – the sub-editor changed it from “%$£!”). I’d have to play the game and before I knew it, I’d be frustrated and grey and… well... a wee bit like the Greens. If we were to truly disrupt and create something special to liven up the airwaves and get asked on to television studios, then we’d have to create a new kind of politics. I’d have to be a wee bit more Katie Hopkins… a bit more Donald Trump. Yep, we’d certainly get a slot on Call Kaye, Loose Women and the One Show and maybe even our own show on LBC –a bit like Mr Salmond.

Now we’re talking. Who’s up for some disruption? Can you feel the energy and momentum building?

Mind you, don’t all jump at once… Others may call it “revolution”.

• Jim Duffy is soon to be Head of #GoDo at Entrepreneurial Spark