POPULARITY swing-o-meters can be fickle and contradictory devices. Early votes in The TES ManWoman of the Year poll suggest Estelle Morris is in danger of becoming both the education hero - and villain - of 2002.
The former education secretary is only narrowly being beaten in the unpopularity stakes by the perennial hate-figure, former chief inspector Chris Woodhead.
In the contest for education hero, Ms Morris has been running neck and neck with none other than the Exeter academic and TES columnist Ted Wragg.
The pair initially faced close competition from Tim Brighouse, who has now dropped to third place. Professor Brighouse is believed to have benefited from votes in Birmingham, where he was chief education officer, and London, where he is to become schools "tsar".
Meanwhile, voters have presented mixed views on sacked Qualifications and Curriculum Authority chairman Sir William Stubbs - apparently divided over whether he contributed to the A-level grading fiasco, or was a scapegoat who stood up to the Government.
He is currently ranked as the fifth most heroic figure in the contest, and sixth most villainous. This makes him more disliked than Canadian supply teacher Amy Gehring, who this year admitted sleeping with a 16-year-old boy at her school in Guildford, Surrey.
Although the poll has now reached its half-way stage, co-ordinators believe only a few votes could change the line-up before voting closes on December 17.
The current top five for hero are: Estelle Morris, 28 per cent; Ted Wragg, 25 per cent; Tim Brighouse, 15 per cent; Phil Willis, 5 per cent; William Stubbs, 3 per cent.
For villain, the top five are: Chris Woodhead, 25 per cent; Estelle Morris, 22 per cent; Tony Blair, 15 per cent; Margaret Hodge, 5 per cent; David Blunkett, 5 per cent.
Results will be printed in The TES on December 20. Visit: www.tes.co.uktoppeople