Pearson gives Labour £25,000

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The Independent Online
Pearson, the media and entertainment group, has become the first major UK company to give significant financial backing to the Labour party with a donation of £25,000.

The party immediately seized on the gift as the first sign that British companies are encouraged by the prospect of a Labour government led by Tony Blair, the Labour leader.

Lord Blakenham, chairman of Pearson which owns the Financial Times, said yesterday: "The Labour party has moved much more towards the centre and are the leading opposition party so it is logical to help them."

The Financial Times came out in favour of Labour during the closing stages of the 1992 general election campaign.

Tim Collins, director of communications at Conservative Central Office, remained unmoved, saying: "It remains the case that overwhelmingly British business only gives money to the Conservative party. That reflects the fact that business does not want theSocial Chapter or the trade unions running riot. It is not indicative of a trend."

Paul Blagbrough, Labour's finance director, said: "The implications of this donation are very considerable."

Lord Blakenham said: "We believe that political parties should be adequately funded to ensure stability and financial integrity. Both [parties] are under financial pressure at the moment."