When I was a lad, back in the last century, I once found myself at a party where hardly anyone turned up. I don’t know if it was because the bloke who organised it had over-estimated his charismatic attraction or if he just hadn’t bothered to tell people it was happening. Either way, it was a bit embarrassing for him and for the few people who pitched up on the day.
But even that fiasco looks as though it will be less embarrassing than the launch of George Osborne’s Shares-For-Rights scheme on 1 September. Only six companies have enquired about it and the consensus from left, right and centre is that the whole thing has been a flop.
Of course, the reason so few firms are interested is that it is one of the government’s most hare-brained ideas yet. Far from reducing complexity, confusion and red tape, it will do just the opposite. It’s so complicated I wouldn’t be surprised if it pushed Britain up the red-tape league table. It is no surprise to anyone, apart from the government, that employers just aren’t interested.
Despite all this, they are pressing ahead with it anyway. Rather like the hapless student who insisted on having his party even when it was clear that most of the people he thought he had invited weren’t coming, George Osborne is going ahead with the launch of a ‘pro-business’ measure that no business wants. Come September, George might find himself with a lot of spare sandwiches to eat.