U.K. economic growth slowed more than economists forecast in the first quarter, dealing a potential blow to Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that his Conservative Party is best placed to manage the recovery.

The 0.3 percent pace released on Tuesday was just half the rate of the previous three months and marked the weakest reading since the fourth quarter of 2012. Economists had forecast growth of 0.5 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

With the May 7 election just over a week away, the release was latched onto by politicians looking to sway voters with their economic credentials. Polls signal the Conservatives, who formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the 2010 election, and the opposition Labour Party are neck-and-neck, with neither likely to win a majority in Parliament.