Cameron's popularity hits record low

2011-07-20 12:00

London - More Britons were unhappy with the way Prime Minister David Cameron was doing his job than at any point since he took office in May last year, according to a poll on Wednesday."

The latest monthly Reuters/Ipsos MORI showed 53% of respondents were dissatisfied with Cameron, versus 38% who were content.

Satisfaction with the government was also at its lowest level since May 2010, with almost two-thirds of voters (63%) critical of the way it was running the country.

A phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business News International, which escalated more than two weeks ago, has shaken Britons' faith in their government, as well as in the police and in the press.

Cameron has faced questions over his judgement in appointing Andy Coulson, a former editor of Murdoch's News of the World tabloid, as his communications chief. Coulson quit as editor in 2007 after two people employed by the newspaper were jailed for phone hacking. He was subsequently given a job by Cameron, but stepped down from his government position in January 2011.

Half of the British public (52%) thought Cameron had handled the phone-hacking affair badly while more than a third (36%) said he had handled it well.

The prime minister will face questions in parliament on Wednesday over the scandal.

Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour party who has taken a strong line on the hacking scandal, was perceived to have dealt better with the crisis, with almost half of those polled thinking he had done well.

Pessimism about economy

Possibly as a result, more people were happy with Miliband (37%) than were in June, although 44% were still dissatisfied.

"While the scandal has boosted Miliband's personal ratings, this has not translated into increased support for his party," the pollsters said.

Of the respondents 32% said they would vote for the ruling Conservative party, which is a 5% decline since June. Support for Labour and junior government coalition partners Liberal Democrats remained the same, at 39% and 11% respectively.

Most Britons said neither the police nor Murdoch and Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, have taken the right steps in response to the hacking scandal, although the survey was carried out before Tuesday when Murdoch and Brooks faced questioning by a cross-party parliamentary committee.

There was no let-up in pessimism about the economy, with half of respondents saying it would get worse over the next year and only a fifth saying it would improve.

Technical data: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1 001 adults aged 18 and over across Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone on July 16-18, 2011. Data was weighted to match the profile of the population.

Read more on:    david cameron  |  ed miliband  |  uk  |  uk hacking scandal  |  media

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