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Investors protest News Corp's $2m political donations

News Corp's recent donations - $1m to the US Chambers of Commerce and $1m to the Republican Governor

The UK fund manager F&C Asset Management, which manages the shares of News Corporation, protested against the political donations made by the media conglomerate saying they are not in the interest of the shareholders.

F&C is planning to vote against the re-election of Sir Rod Eddington as chairman of News Corp's audit board. They reportedly believe that the committee is overseeing company's donations.

News Corp's recent donations - $1m to the US Chambers of Commerce in September and $1m to the Republican Governors Association in August - ahead of the polls in key Congressional elections on 2 November are understood to have sparked the protest.

News Corp has been maintaining that it donates to groups that have "a pro-business agenda, and support our priorities at this most critical time for our economy".

However, Karina Litvack, head of governance and sustainable development at F&C, said: "We are concerned to see the company deploy shareholder funds for activities that are best left to those individuals whose views they reflect and are not obviously a matter for the company."

She added that there is no evidence that the political contributions made by the company are in the interest of shareholders.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.