Snapshot of change

Nobody's saying a poll is infallible. Even taking the margin of error into account, they can be treacherous things, as the last general election proved. But The Lawyer's poll on Law Society voting intentions in the coming presidential elections has thrown up some remarkable data.

For one thing, of more than 1,000 people who spoke to the canvassers, half were undecided whether they would vote or, if they would, who they would vote for.

About 20 per cent said they would not vote at all. Many gave the impression they would not because they felt the society was out of touch or an irrelevance in their lives.

The poll provides a snapshot of how lawyers are responding to the elections and the society at the present time. Clearly this is not the end of the story. It shows that Martin Mears, the Law Society Council's new boy who set out to be a thorn in its side, has stolen a march on the other two candidates by getting his election material out to the voters fast and by making himself the so-called voice of the high street practitioner.

The other two candidates, Henry Hodge and Eileen Pembridge, are said to be getting their documents out as soon as possible, probably some time this week. Nominations close this week and ballot papers go out on 14 June. The results are announced on 6 July.

That gives voters a lot of time to make up their minds or change their minds several times.

What our poll shows is that those who thought Mears was just a one-off, a maverick who would be laughed out of the election, were wrong. Hodge is still in the lead but that lead is hardly safe. As for Pembridge, her support is a lot more than nominal and our canvassers picked up a strong impression that she was garnering the women's vote.

The overall picture is that those who will vote won't do so to keep the status quo. They will use it as an opportunity to make their feelings about the society known.