London has suffered a blow to its cosmopolitan image this morning as the papers report that up to a third of the city’s voters (not half, as LBC misreported) would be “uncomfortable” with a Muslim Mayor.
This is far more than the increasingly tiny sections who harboured similar concerns about having a gay, female, or ethnic minority Mayor.
The press suggest that these attitudes could be problematic for Syed Kamall and Sadiq Khan, both of whom are amongst the front runners for the Conservative and Labour mayoral nomination respectively.
Suffice to say, the private religious views of two mainstream politicians have precious little relevance to the office of Mayor – and it would be deeply unfair to start bracketing Kamall and Khan as ‘Muslim candidates’.
Not least of which because they’re very different politicians. Kamall is widely viewed as the more Thatcherite contender for the Tory nomination against moderniser Zac Goldsmith, whilst Khan likewise not his party’s most centrist option.
What matters is their plan for London, and the policies they have to implement them, and regardless of your opinion on their individual positions there is surely no denying that both are credible contenders for the Mayoral office.
Besides which, this poll be as large a problem for either man as it appears at first glance.
There is a world of difference between registering a twinge of concern about an anonymous ‘Muslim Mayor’ and a genuine refusal to support an individual politician with a programme you like on the basis of their faith.
After all, the Tory shires have consistently confounded their critics in recent times by embracing MPs from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Indeed, the fastest remedy for London’s apparent hesitancy at the prospect of a Muslim Mayor may well be exposure to the campaign of one or more credible Muslim candidates.
ConservativeHome has yet to make any pronouncement on our preference for the Tory nominee, and won’t here.
But we do urge everyone with an opportunity to vote in the Conservative primary to vote for the men and the programmes they offer, rather than be led by polls such as this one.