The rise in muscular liberalism

Written by Max Wind-Cowie on 31 March 2011 in Opinion
Max Wind-Cowie, the head of the Progressive Conservatism Project at Demos, writes about this new expression of conservatism

The responses to Cameron’s Munich speech were as varied as they were hysterical. Buried, however, beneath the predictable shouts of "Fascist", and the overwrought, hurt feelings of Muslim community leaders was an understandable and more justifiable question. Just what is this ‘active, muscular liberalism’ that the prime minister is calling for, and how do we know when we’re doing it?

To coin a phrase more often used as reality TV fodder – "It’s all about the confidence". Cameron’s new direction is not about changing the values of Britain – or, worse, trying to dream up new ways of talking about ‘Britishness’, as his predecessor became obsessed with – but about developing more confident and robust attitudes to the ones we have now.

Muscular liberalism is all about the values that already underpin our society.  Democracy, gay rights, gender equality and racial harmony are profound achievements of which we must be proud.

We live in a culture that tolerates our differences and encourages enquiry and debate. But, too often, that liberalism makes us soft

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