Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire.
Is there a link between professional politicians' attitude to public service and collapsing party membership?
There was much soul-searching in 1993 when Conservative Party membership fell below 500,000. Many Conservative activists, both politicians and volunteers, could remember the days in the early 1950s when there were nearly three million party members. The remnant of that generation of thriving involvement now belongs to a national political party with fewer than 180,000 members in 2013.
It is patronising to tell them that many of their peers joined the party in the austeer post-war period for the balls and dances because these elderly members remember the practical campaigning advantages of a base of active volunteers that was considerably larger than it is now. It is even more patronising to accuse them of being stuck in the past because a shrinking volunteer base hardly augurs well for the future of the cause they have served unpaid for many decades. It is hardly progressive politics to haemorrhage members unless one harbours the thought that the modernised few are no longer the 'nasty party'.
The older generation of Conservative volunteers is entitled to ask: what is it about the current generation of professional politicians that is failing to inspire volunteer activists? That is not to claim that politicians are entirely to blame for early 21st century apathy and selfish disengagement - what one might call the 'whatever' attitude - in wider British society. But it is to raise the possibility that politicians with little sense of being public servants - what one might 'rock star politicians' - are morally unable to motivate volunteer activists.