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When Christie's auctioned off Margaret Thatcher's personal possessions a few weeks ago, businessman Neil Westwood leapt at the chance to buy a piece of history.
In a bid that shattered expectations he forked out £84,000 for the former Prime Minister's House of Lords ermine robe – complete with a smear of lipstick.
But the 43-year-old Westwood, one of David Cameron's favourite entrepreneurs, believes Baroness Thatcher will be 'turning in her grave' over the policies of George Osborne.
Piece of history: Neil Westwood bought Baroness Thatcher's House of Lords robe for £84,000
Westwood, whose company Magic Whiteboard shot to fame on Dragons' Den, is furious about some of the Chancellor's tax plans, which he believes will harm entrepreneurs like himself.
'Mrs Thatcher would be horrified. She will be turning in her grave. I really do believe that,' he says.
He is particularly dismayed by a move announced by Osborne in his Autumn Statement which in effect slaps an extra 7.5 per cent tax on company dividends. These payouts are the rewards for shareholders and they are the way many small company owners pay themselves. They believe it is recompense for the risk of starting up a business.
'I can see why they might want to raise the dividend tax for bigger companies, but it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth,' he says, suggesting that a 3 per cent tax rate would be more appropriate for smaller companies.
Westwood is one of the most prominent supporters of a petition calling for the plan to be scrapped. More than 50,000 business people have so far signed it through the Government's e-petition system. The target is 100,000 – enough for the issue to be considered for debate in the House of Commons.
'If David Cameron or George Osborne had actually run their own small business they wouldn't do this,' says a clearly frustrated Westwood.
'I think everyone needs to run a business before they start making political decisions. Because it's not easy to make a profit… and the risks you have to take… you're basically putting everything on the line and then someone makes a decision because, 'Oh we need to get more money,' without really thinking through the implications.'
On tour: Mrs Thatcher's ermine robe is being shown off in the Far East
Recent headlines about the extremely low tax rates paid by global corporations such as Google and Amazon simply add to Westwood's anger. 'We're going to pay £78,000 corporation tax in March. I don't mind paying my corporation tax, because that's what it is. And we don't fiddle it. We just pay on whatever our net profit is. But that is a lot of money for a small business. And we can't avoid it like bigger companies sometimes do.'
That £78,000 tax bill is due to the extraordinary profitability of Magic Whiteboard. 'Our turnover is £1.2million a year and we make a profit of almost £400,000,' says Westwood. It's a margin of which any business would be proud. Magic Whiteboards are like the whiteboards used across the world for business presentations and in classrooms, but with the huge advantage that they can be rolled up like a sheet of paper.
Westwood's business, based in Worcester, is one of the most lucrative to appear on Dragons' Den. He and his business partner and wife Laura appeared on the programme in 2008 and secured £100,000 from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, who put the product into 237 of his Ryman office stationery stores .
It turned out to be a huge money spinner for the Dragons, who last year cashed in their stake for £610,000. They sold their shares back to the Westwoods, who once again are the 100 per cent owners of the company. 'We had the opportunity to buy them out so we bought them out! Now I don't have to ask them permission to do anything,' says Neil.
The company has also made a few bob for the Westwoods, as the bid for Baroness Thatcher's robe amply demonstrates.
'We've still got the cloak. It's in storage,' says Westwood, adding that he intends to use it as part of a marketing campaign for the company in the Far East, where Baroness Thatcher is an icon. 'The plan is to take it to Japan in July. I met with people from Japan and Korea and I said, 'What is this big thing about Margaret Thatcher?' Apparently they teach about her in their schools. She's used as an example of turning around a failing economy. So she's like a role model.'
So is Westwood a big fan of Maggie? 'Fan is a bit of a strong word, but I do respect her. My Mum set up her own business in the 1980s, a residential rest home. And at the time that sort of market was being freed up and my Mum saw the opportunity. It changed our lives. We were in a council house and it allowed us to escape that. I'm 43 now so I was sort of a Thatcher child wasn't I?'
The robe has also proved a smart investment. Westwood has already had offers far above the £84,000 he paid. 'We've had it insured. Lord Young tweeted me and he said to insure it for £250,000,' he says. Lord Young was a pivotal figure in the Thatcher era as Trade and Industry Secretary in the late 1980s.
Westwood met Lord Young when he and Laura attended a reception at No 10. They had been invited as model examples of Britain's entrepreneurial small companies.
It was in the garden of No 10 that Westwood bumped into Osborne. 'He was actually standing on his own and I went up to him and said hello. I thought, 'I've come all this way, I might as well introduce myself.' He seemed a bit shocked, but I did give him a pack of Magic Sticky Notes.'
That encounter took place long before Osborne announced his dividend tax hike. If they met again today it seems extremely likely that Westwood would have considerably more to say.
So does he think Osborne could one day be held in the same reverence by businesses as Maggie? 'George Osborne? You must be joking,' is Westwood's withering reply.
It seems unlikely that Westwood will ever be bidding for one of Osborne's suits.