By FRANCESCA MOLD political reporter

Support for the National Party has jumped in the latest political poll, bringing the Opposition the closest it has been to Labour in the past six months.

A Television One News/Colmar Brunton Poll released last night showed that National's support had risen four percentage points to 41 per cent, while Labour had slipped by two points to 44 per cent.

The Alliance, Labour's coalition partner, also dipped slightly to capture just 2 per cent of support - well below the 5 per cent threshold needed for entry to Parliament.

The Green party continued its rise, picking up another point to a comfortable 6 per cent.

In terms of the country's economic outlook, the poll showed that about 45 per cent of those polled were optimistic - down six points from last month. Pessimism had grown by 5 points to 34 per cent.

In the preferred Prime Minister category, Helen Clark dropped four points to 37 per cent.

National's Jenny Shipley has picked up two points but still lags 20 per cent behind the Prime Minister.

National's deputy leader, Bill English, and deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton each lost one point in the new poll to be on 6 and 3 per cent respectively.

The poll results came at a rough time for the Government

Labour and the Alliance were recently accused of blatant discrimination for restricting a rise in income limits for the card to superannuitants who would have otherwise lost access to cheap health care because of a benefit rise.

The decision was not extended to 48,000 working New Zealanders because of the $14 million price tag.

The poll was conducted in the first week of May and surveyed 1000 eligible voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 per cent.