LONDON (Reuters) - Support for the governing Conservative Party has fallen slightly but most people do not believe the Labour opposition is ready to govern, blaming it for the country's economic woes, an opinion poll showed on Thursday.
The May Reuters/Ipsos Mori Political Monitor showed Labour up two points since last month on 42 percent, while support for the Conservatives, the coalition government's senior partners, fell five points to 35 percent of those who plan to vote.
Backing for the centre-left Liberal Democrats, the junior party in government which suffered a drubbing in local elections three weeks ago, rose one point to 10 percent, far below the roughly 24 percent who voted for them a year ago.
Economic optimism was down slightly, with just 29 percent of Britons expecting the economy will improve in the next year compared to 42 percent who think it will get worse.
However, the previous Labour administration risks sharing the blame if the economy deteriorates.
Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron remains the most highly rated leader, with only 17 percent believing Labour's Ed Miliband is ready to become premier, a doubt shared by more than half of his own party's supporters.
LABOUR NOT READY
Overall, only three in 10 people think Labour is ready to form a government a year after it lost power.
"We're seeing a slight decrease in the Conservative vote share this month compared to last month but that's not translating into a boost for Labour in any other ways," Ipsos MORI's Helen Cleary said.
"Cameron is still ahead on leadership ratings. The coalition is seen as divided on some issues but retains a united front on the key issue of the economy. There's no clear benefit for Labour nor crisis for the coalition."
The Lib Dems have borne the brunt of public dissatisfaction over unprecedented spending cuts to rein in a record budget deficit, taking flak for dropping some of their flagship policies.
Satisfaction with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the party's leader, continued to fall with only 29 percent happy with his performance compared to 61 percent who are dissatisfied, the Reuters/Ipsos MORI survey found.
After their poor showing in this month's elections, senior Lib Dem figures said they look to be more assertive in government, but the poll suggested Britons were split on how they expected the coalition partners to act.
Almost half (49 percent) thought parties should stand up for what they believed in even if that made decisions difficult, whilst 47 percent thought they should work together to get an agreement even if it meant ditching their policies.
While the government was seen as divided over issues such as the state-run National Health Service, more of those surveyed felt the coalition parties did hold similar views on the economy.
Both parties, particularly the Lib Dems, are hoping that an economic upturn will translate into backing at the next election which they have earmarked for 2015.
However, the poll suggested only a third of voters believed the coalition together would deserve the credit if the economy does improve next year, with 43 percent saying it will be down to the state of the global economy.
Furthermore, while 15 percent would credit the Conservatives alone, just 2 percent would put the improvement solely down to the Lib Dems.
- Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,008 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain.
- Interviews were conducted by telephone May 2--24 2011.
- Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.