Britain's coalition doing well as it marks 100 days: poll

18th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's first coalition government since World War II is still enjoying a political honeymoon 100 days after coming into office, a poll suggested on Wednesday.

The survey for the Guardian newspaper showed 46 percent of voters deemed the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was doing a good job in running the country, against 36 percent who thought it was doing a bad job.

It also indicated that the government was winning over the British people in its controversial push to tackle the country's enormous deficit with immediate and deep public spending cuts.

Forty-four percent of those polled said the government led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was doing a good job in securing economic recovery against 37 percent who said it was doing a bad job.

The issue of when to start slashing Britain's enormous deficit -- which stands at a record 154.7 billion pounds (241 billion dollars, 187 billion euros) -- is hotly disputed.

The opposition Labour party argues immediate cuts risk pushing Britain's economy back into recession.

The coalition was formed in May after the centre-right Conservatives won the most seats at the general election but not enough to oust the Labour party and govern alone.

Five days of frantic negotiations followed to hammer out a deal with the third-placed, centrist Liberal Democrats. The parties eventually succeeded in forming a government, with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister.

The coalition has wasted no time in unveiling swift and swingeing spending cuts to tackle the deficit, as well as outlining radical policies to reform health, education, welfare and the police.

Cameron's personal popularity also appeared to be holding up, according to the survey by pollster ICM.

It showed 57 percent of voters think he is doing a good job, while 52 percent believe he can be trusted to "make the right decisions when the going gets tough".

The government's economic policy has proved divisive here, with employers groups and unions trading verbal blows over the best approach.

The Confederation of British Industry, Britain's biggest employers group, strongly backed the approach, saying it had been "impressed by the speed and direction of policy-making to date."

Brendan Barber of the TUC (an umbrella group for unions) hit back: "Far from securing the economic recovery, they are slamming on the economic brakes. Growth will be well below potential and there is growing risk of a double-dip recession."

Many commentators argue that the coalition will hit turbulence in October when it outlines where huge cuts will fall in a comprehensive spending review.

ICM interviewed 1,001 adults by telephone on 13-15 August.

© 2010 AFP

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