More Britons trust Cameron on economy than his rivals, despite grim data

LONDON (REUTERS) - Despite a stagnating economy, an austerity drive, and a squeeze on living standards, more of the British public trust Prime Minister David Cameron to make the right economic decisions than his opposition rivals, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Public perceptions about the economy and how it is being managed are closely tied to Mr Cameron's political fortunes as his ruling Conservative party is banking on a slow but steady economic revival to help it win the next election in 2015.

However Mr George Osborne, the finance minister, said earlier this month that the economy would grow by just 0.6 per cent this year, half the rate previously expected, and that it was taking "longer than anyone hoped" for it to recover.

Support for Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne to make the right decisions on the economy is low, at 29 per cent, the poll by ComRes for The Independent newspaper found.

But it is just 1 per cent lower than a month earlier, before Mr Osborne delivered a grim annual budget statement. The proportion of people who did not trust them fell, by 4 per cent, to 58 per cent.

The main opposition Labour party - which has long enjoyed an overall lead of about 10 per cent in polls - does not appear to be winning the economic argument, the new survey suggested.

The party, which wants a slower pace of cuts, was in power at the time of the 2008 financial crisis and presided over a sharp increase in the national debt.

The poll found only 22 per cent of voters trusted Mr Ed Miliband, its leader, and Mr Ed Balls, its financial spokesman, to make the right decisions on the economy, 2 per cent lower than two previous ComRes polls in January and October last year.

With the economy in such a poor state two-and-a-half years after a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition took power, few signs of growth, and an almost daily slew of negative headlines about living standards, analysts believe Labour should be starting to win back voter trust.

The poll was based on phone interviews with 1,003 adults and was conducted between March 22 and 24.

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