Osborne And Cameron 'More Trusted' On Economy
Voters' confidence in George Osborne and David Cameron's ability to manage Britain's finances has risen sharply in a fresh blow to Labour.
An ICM survey for the Guardian revealed the pair have opened up a massive lead over rivals Ed Miliband and Ed Balls when it comes to running the economy.
It found 40% of voters had confidence in the Tory party on the central issue, a major leap from 28% back in June.
The Labour leader and his shadow chancellor were well behind on 24%, despite enjoying a five-point jump in their own rating over the same period.
In further bad news for Ed Miliband, Labour only had a three-point lead over the Tories when it came to overall voting intentions.
The poll put Labour on 35% and the Tories on 32%, which when taking into account the margin of error could make the lead non-existent.
It piles more pressure on Mr Miliband, who returned from a two-week family holiday on Monday amid criticism about a lack of leadership.
Prominent Labour MPs have complained about a summer of "deafening silence" from the shadow cabinet that has allowed the Tories to set the agenda.
There is also disquiet that the Opposition has still not fleshed out policies in key areas, with just 21 months until the next election.
The rise in confidence in Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron on the economy follows encouraging figures last month which put growth at 0.6% in the second quarter of 2013.
It also appears to show that Labour's move to make the rising cost of living a key theme of its attack on the coalition's handling of the economy is not working.
This is despite people's continued pessimism about their own money, with more expecting their financial situation to worsen (29%) than improve (24%) over the next year.
Both of the main parties lost voting share, most of which were picked up by the UK Independence Party which rose three points to 10%.
The Lib Dems were up one at 14%.
Left-wing groups have also expressed concerns about Labour's direction and attacked Mr Miliband for attempting to reform the party's union ties.
In a letter to The Guardian, film director Ken Loach, poet Michael Rosen and Only Fools And Horses actor Roger Lloyd Pack called for a new party of the left.
It said: "This summer will be remembered for Labour's final betrayal of the working-class people it was founded to represent.
"Not content with signing up to Conservative austerity measures that are dragging Britain's most vulnerable people deeper into poverty, Ed Miliband has turned his back on the union members who supported his leadership bid."
The signatories claimed Mr Miliband had failed to blame the economic crisis on "unfettered capitalism" and asked why he had not vowed to reverse the coalition's so-called "bedroom tax".
"We urgently need a new party of the left. Labour will not provide the opposition to coalition policies that the situation demands," the letter said.
The Left Unity group, which could vie for union funding, plans to hold its founding conference in November and says it already has more than 9,000 people signed up.
:: ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,001 adults by telephone on August 9-11.