By John Charles Dyer, UK Correspondent
18 March 2013. Today Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Leader Nick Clegg, Labour Leader Ed Milliband and the House of Commons passed the test of democracy in a way the US Congress could perhaps find instructive. At 2:30 AM, after intensive negotiations, all parties came to an agreement on a method to implement Judge Leveson’s recommendations with regard to the regulation of press ethics and excesses.
The specifics of the agreement were nobody’s first choice. Yet the the specifics do represent real progress. Especially in light of a breakdown in those very talks the previous Friday, the compromise those specifics represent was a welcome surprise.
Cynics will argue it came about only because the Prime Minister faced a severe defeat in a vote set for the evening of 18 March. In the days ahead the compromise will be dissected and analyzed. The Press Barons will squeal. Unintended consequences will emerge. We will find reasons to be disappointed. It is by no means a certainty that today's deal will hold up over the days ahead. The Press Barons can not be expected to stop their full court press. Some knees may weaken.
But the bottom line is, the Prime Minister compromised. The Deputy Prime Minister compromised. The Labour Leader compromised. The House of Commons compromised. This is critical because compromise -- not my way or the highway -- is the essence of democratic governance.
It is important -- especially for those of us who so often feel free to criticise the Prime Minister -- to recognize, support and encourage the Members and the Leaders for doing so even though it is not yet a final done deal. In reality rarely is anything ever a final done deal in politics.
In the days ahead one only hopes the Members and the Leaders have the courage to hold to their decision. The hard reality of politics is one can do much good if one is willing to accept its fundamental cost - one will make enemies by doing and one or more of those enemies will one day get one. To compromise on a very difficult subject like press regulation, affecting arguably one of the United Kingdom’s historically strongest interest groups is an exemplary act of political courage.
Congratulations to all involved.