Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens, this is what defines us as a society: to belong here is to believe in these things. Now, each of us in our own countries, I believe, must be unambiguous and hard-nosed about this defence of our liberty.Multiculturalism represents the most obvious failure of American-style "liberalism", which is the polar opposite of the historic liberalism for which Britain once stood, almost alone in the world. A genuine - as opposed to American - liberal governments does indeed say to its citizens that as long as they obey the law they will be left alone, and is neutral between different values.
Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, the rule of law, and equal rights before the law are not values - they are mechanisms designed to limit the power of the state over the private lives of citizens. Cameron's concept of "muscular, active liberalism" admits no constraint on the power of the state to define and enforce conformity, and is thus the negation of classic liberalism.
A genuinely liberal country is by definition "passively tolerant". The failure of multiculturalism has come about because it privileges certain groups to the detriment of the rest of society, most murderously in encouraging the immigration of people from primitive societies whose "culture" furiously rejects liberalism of any kind, and to grant special dispensation to the laws and customs that have made shit-holes of their countries of origin.
But then Britain is a long way from being a genuinely liberal country because all those mechanisms have been systematically undermined and subverted by the "progressive" concept that natural rights do not exist and that every issue must be decided in terms of expediency. Whether and to what extent the state allows individuals to control any aspect of their lives is viewed purely in terms of whether the consequences serve the interests of the state, which has usurped the functions of civil society.
Because Cameron and his clique do not understand this, as clearly shown by the passage quoted above, the "Big Society" is a self-contradictory sham. On one hand he says he wants to revitalize civil society by reducing the role of the state. On the other he wants the state to "believe in certain values and actively promote them".
In what way is that philosophically different to the Islamic theocracies?
P.S. Sigh. Delingpole misconstrues the point made by Old Holborn, which, stripped of the demagoguery, is the same as mine. It's not the business of the state to define "Britishness", not least because it does not exist. There are English, Scots, Welsh, Irish and various immigrant groups, each with their sub-types; but "British" is just a convenient collective adjective.