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Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

Call me old fashioned, but I had always been under the impression that the Conservative Party was the party of small business, enterprise and entrepreneurialism. No longer. In Wednesday’s Budget, Philip Hammond delivered a firm slap in the face to two and a half million self-employed people. With the proposed increase in some national insurance contributions, he signalled to them that he didn’t understand what it means to be self-employed and that he doesn’t understand the concept of insurance as opposed to a tax.

He also signalled to people that they shouldn’t believe a word that’s written in the next Conservative Manifesto. The pledge in the last one couldn’t have been clearer, and the wriggling that the Chancellor and his colleagues proceeded to do had to be seen to be believed. Ah, they said, the pledge only applied to Class Two contributors – as if anyone who wasn’t a political geek would have understood what that meant.

Look at the small print of legislation last year, they said. It was made clear that this only applied to Class Two contributions. Well, in that case, the distinction should have been made clear in the manifesto the previous May. Hammond also gave the impression that he thought that people were trying to fiddle their taxes by going self-employed. Thanks, Phil.  By introducing this one measure, Hammond gave two a half million people licence to vote for another party. Quite an achievement for a Conservative Chancellor.

I suspect that this is another one of those measures which civil servants have suggested should be in the budget year after year. A sensible and more political chancellor would have told them to take a running jump, and sent the proposal packing. It’s an idea that Hammond will live to regret. I hope enough Tory MPs vote for an amendment to the Finance Bill to consign this ignorant and anti-business proposal to the dustbin of budget history.

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Lord Ashcroft has advertised for a job as a researcher, working with him and Isabel Oakeshott on his new book about British defence policy. I hear Lord Heseltine has some time on his hands…

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Sometimes we in this country forget what a proud nation we have been. Liam Fox caused a minor outrage on the Left this week when he said that “The United Kingdom, is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not need to bury its twentieth century history”

He’s right, though, isn’t he? Think of all the countries in Europe, from Portugal in the west to Russia in the East and I can’t think of any, apart from Switzerland and ourselves, who haven’t got cause to want to forget a large part of the last century. Theresa May might like to think about that when she starts the Brexit negotiations.

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Nothing illustrates the paranoia of the Corbynistas more than this rather pathetic tweet from someone calling himself ‘Crumblesch’: “Who knows if it is Hawking that said that? For all we know, MI5 could have hacked his machine.” Corbyn terrifies the establishment, they will stop at nothing to remove him.” And the thing point is that CrumbleSch and others like him seriously believe this to be true. Looneytunes.

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They say disasters come in threes, and so it proved last Saturday morning. I was standing in for Matt Frei on his Saturday show on LBC. I’m not used to getting up early on a Saturday – so I guess that has to be the explanation as to why I got on the wrong train at Tonbridge and suddenly realised that, instead of heading for Charing Cross, the train was going to Strood, one of the Medway towns!

I got to the studio with only twenty minutes to spare. I then found I had forgotten to bring my Laptop. Then, when I was doing my opener, I realised I hadn’t heard the background music before. Was it a long opener, was it a short opener? I made the wrong choice and stopped speaking too soon.

Now I realise that, on the disaster scale, all these would score pretty low – but that’s not how it felt at the time. Anyway, we did the first hour on the Northern Ireland elections, which elicited far more calls than the second hour phone-in on the Budget did. In fact, I think it’s the first time that  anyone on LBC has ever done a phone-in for an hour on the state of politics in Northern Ireland. I suspect it won’t be the last.

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Of one thing we can be sure. House of Lords reform is firmly back on the agenda. Not now. Not next year – but after the 2020 election. The reason is obvious so I won’t labour the point, but there will be a lot of pressure for the measure to be backed in the next Conservative manifesto.

Of course, following William Hague’s call for an early election this week, there are a growing number of voices who are urging the Prime Minister to seek one. Downing Street has pooh-pooed the idea, although its denial that she is considering the matter was slightly half hearted.

If she wanted to do so, it wouldn’t be simple, because of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Her solution could be to repeal it. Jeremy Corbyn, when asked if he would support a repeal of the legislation, said that he would consider it. He really is a turkey voting for Christmas.

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This week, I announced that Biteback will publish Katie Hopkins’ autobiography later in the year. Certain people on the Left were outraged. Outraged, I tell you!

Many would quite happily ban us from publishing it. Because that’s their default reaction to anyone publishing a book they disagree with and written by a person they hate. They’ll never change.

They wouldn’t even have been able to raise a smile on their hatchet faces by the fact that in original marketing blurb for the book used the phrase “slack vagina”. I’m afraid that I then decided to let my inner Mary Whitehouse take over, and impose some right-wing censorship. It’s what she would have wanted…

113 comments for: Iain Dale: Fox was right. Most European countries need to bury their twentieth century history.

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