Business Eye: Sturgeon’s seductive sales pitch for a dangerous product

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

Last week’s 7 headed monster that was the General Election Leaders’ Debate offered a number of valuable business messages for those who were watching carefully.

Not the political sales pitches, all of which we already know will end up more as fiction than reality, but the spectacle itself.

It may have looked like an episode of “The Weakest Link” with Julie Etchingham the clear winner in career boosting points, but there were a number of valuable embedded lessons for the astute business observer.

Firstly, if you felt yourself warming to Nicola Sturgeon for her apparent maturity, composure and feisty performance, it might just demonstrate the power of presentation and body language over substance. This is great news for anyone else selling a dangerous product.

The SNP stands for the break-up of the UK, the end to our nuclear deterrent and the laughable idea that the way out of debt is to borrow more and spend it on welfare, a policy akin to doubling up on red. “Our Nicola” might well be dangerous, but like many others I like to associate with maturity, composure and a feisty approach, so I felt a little seduced.

This is a serious danger in any business, believing in what you feel irrespective of the facts before you. It is why we end up hiring people who fail and keep people who have few admirable traits even if they let us down badly.

We also learned how much more thought-provoking it is to receive diverse input from very different perspectives. “Red Ed” was lambasted from the left. Nigel Farage was rounded on by the other six for being bold enough to state some uncomfortable truths.

You might remember that the same thing happened to Galileo when he challenged the perceived wisdom of the time that the sun orbited the earth. If however Nicola Sturgeon had suggested it in her own way, the reaction may have been altogether different; that seduction in play once again.

The mini-spat between the Deputy and Prime Ministers was also insightful. The embarrassed way with which Nick Clegg attacked David Cameron offered a superb illustration that sadly, in most divorce, business and political fights she is a fool who believes her friend will do the honourable thing when the chips are down. Sad but true.

Perhaps we need a Nicola Sturgeon who doesn’t hold such dangerous views and is for uniting us, not dividing us?