AS the High Court today hands down its decision on whether or not the Government ban on foxhunting was legal, a newly published opinion poll says that the number of people opposing the sport has dropped from over 70% to less than half.
Irrespective of the court judgement - which is widely expected to back the Government (see a Week in the Country) - this is a major boost for hunt supporters and a worrying blow to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is said to be deeply worried about the controversy becoming a major part of the coming general election campaign.
Even if the court decisions goes against the Countryside Alliance, who say that the ban was introduced by the illegal use of the Parliament Act, supporters plan a whole series of appeals.
It has also been reported that hundreds of riders will go ahead with illegal hunts after the deadline of midnight on Thursday, deliberately provoking confrontations with police.
Meanwhile, foreign hunts in France, Spain and the Republic of Ireland are reporting big increases in British membership by people being driven out of this country because of constant intervention in people's private lives by the so-called "nanny state."