Opposition Labor remained the most popular party, but its support had slipped to its lowest level since last October. Labour leader Ed Miliband's personal ratings were the lowest since he became party leader last September, falling back after he made a strong impression during a phone-hacking scandal.
Britain has been ruled by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition since May 2010 and a national election is not due until 2015. However, the main parties will hold their annual conferences in the coming three weeks and their leaders will be looking closely at the opinion polls to gauge the national mood before they face the party faithful. Thirty-three percent of those polled thought the Conservatives had the best policies for the economy, against 23 percent who backed Labor and eight percent for the Liberal Democrats.
The coalition is pushing through a radical austerity program that will cut government spending in many departments by a fifth. With inflation outstripping wage rises and unemployment rising, 52 percent thought that the economic condition of the country would get worse over the next year, and only a fifth forecast an improvement. The Conservatives' poll ratings have proved resilient despite the faltering economy and the worst rioting in generations that shook English cities last month.