Badgering ministers can work

This morning's big Commons news is that the Defra Secretary, Owen Paterson, is to make a statement to the House at 12.30pm, announcing that the badger cull is to be put "on hold".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The proposed cull has attracted demonstrations and protests

We'll have to wait till then for his exact reasoning, but my guess is that the Backbench Business Committee debate on Thursday is a huge factor in his decision. The anti campaign are anticipating a big vote against the cull - bolstered by a rally planned for tomorrow, with star names, including David Attenborough, lined up to lobby MPs against the cull.

A decisive vote against the cull on Thursday would make it well-nigh impossible for it to go ahead.

On one hand, this is a huge victory for backbench MPs and for the Backbench Business Committee, demonstrating the growing influence these debates can have.

On the other, those loyalists who may not have been keen on the cull, but who dutifully argued in favour of it, could end up looking pretty silly, having been marched right up to the top of the hill and then marched back down again. This kind of experience can make them more cautious about backing controversial government policies in future.

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