It looks like the gay marriage bill will be published in the next few days and second reading is likely to be Tuesday 5 February, which means that would also be the day for the potentially more challenging programme motion vote (quite why it’s so dangerous is outlined by Paul Goodman).

It was the programme motion procedural vote that effectively did for the House of Lords reforms. Labour allied with Tory opponents of the reforms to insist that the bill should have a protracted course through parliament, being debated on the floor of the Commons over many weeks. The government took that as a cue to dump the bill. Labour has a chance of doing the same again as Tory rebels talk of having between 120 – 140 ready to vote against the programme motion.

Labour’s not made any decision on the programme motion saying it will look at the bill itself and the government’s plans for how it should be debated. No 10 is taking the programme motion threat sufficiently seriously for the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, to have gone round on a charm offensive trying to get backbenchers to stand down their troops … so far with no success.