British prime minister ends tough year on a poll high

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British Prime Minister David Cameron ended a difficult year with a boost on Sunday as a poll revealed a clear popularity lead over his rivals, although his Conservative Party fared less well.

Some 48 percent of those surveyed in the ICM poll believed Cameron was doing a good job while 43 percent said he wasn't performing well, a positive rating of five.

The prime minister was the only party leader to register a positive score with Labour leader Ed Miliband on minus 17 and Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg scoring even worse on minus 19.

The poll, commissioned by the Guardian newspaper, revealed that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government was much less popular than its leader.

Only 39 percent said the government was doing a good job compared to 47 percent who were unhappy with the coalition.

Cameron's boost can be partly attributed to his dramatic veto of an EU treaty change earlier this month, which also gave his party a short-lived poll hike.

The prime minister has overseen a year of public spending cuts, triggering a series of mass strikes, and was called back from his summer holiday to deal with Britain's worst riots for a generation.

He has also been under pressure from the eurosceptic wing of his own party, which wants to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership.

Earlier in the year, he made the decision to provide military support to Libyan rebels in their quest to unseat veteran leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Although Cameron appears to have come through a tumultuous year largely unscathed, his party remains only one point ahead of rivals Labour in the latest poll.

© 2011 AFP

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