Labour lead shrinks to just three points as economic recovery builds

The Tories are within reaching distance of Labour, according a new poll which will cause consternation among allies of Ed Miliband.

The Guardian/ICM poll put Labour on 35%, down two, the Tories on 32%, unchanged, and the Liberal Democrats on 14%, up two.

Ukip is on ten per cent, up one, the SNP on four per cent, Greens on three per cent and Plaid Cymru on one per cent.

The Labour lead is down from five per cent last month and eight per cent the month before.

Labour's performance is now where it was in August, just before his game-changing conference speech allowed him to dominate the political debate during the last three months of 2013.

The poll comes as the UK's inflation rate fell to two per cent in December, down from 2.1% the month before. It is the first time inflation has been at the government set target of two per cent since November 2009.

The inflation figures are just the latest positive news for the economy, with unemployment also improving.

A slim majority of voters (52%) now say they are confident about their personal finances and their "ability to keep up with the cost of living," presenting a significant challenge to Miliband's 'cost of living' narrative.

Writing in the Telegraph today, Miliband expanded the policy agenda to the middle classes, saying higher earners were also being hit by a discrepancy between prices and pay.

"The current cost-of-living crisis is not just about people on tax credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage," he wrote.

"It is about millions of middle-class families who never dreamt that life would be such a struggle."

Miliband is expected to flesh out the theme in a speech on Friday.