Bunhill: Party over

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The Independent Online
WHILE Asil Nadir hogs the headlines, the curious behaviour of another staunch Tory supporter, Marks and Spencer, seems to have gone unnoticed. The M&S annual report, currently winging its way to shareholders, shows that it cut its donation from pounds 50,000 last time to pounds 10,000, the lowest for seven years.

St Michael has blessed Smith Square with a total of pounds 375,500 since Mrs Thatcher arrived at Number 10 in 1979. And, as the Labour Research Department gleefully points out, the Government has blessed successive M&S chairmen with two peerages and a knighthood during the same period.

M&S, one of the few companies to seek (and get) a mandate from shareholders to make political hand-outs, hedged its bets last year, giving pounds 10,000 to the Liberal Democrats.

But why the apparent snub to the Tories this time? An M&S spokeswoman remains sphinx-like throughout the third-degree from Bunhill, except to insist it has 'categorically nothing to do with' the Government's stance on Sunday trading.