This next sentence might come as a bit of a shock to you. A third of Londoners would be uncomfortable with a Muslim mayor. Yes, Londoners - the regional group thought of as being the "most liberal, broad-minded and open" in the UK according to Cambridge University's personality map of Britain. Yet regardless of this complimentary label there is still much caution and lack of understanding around religion in the capital, far more than exists for gender, sexuality or ethnic minority for instance. Last week's YouGov poll, surveying 1,153 adults for LBC, revealed that Londoners are more uneasy with the thought of a Muslim mayor than they are about female (just 4% expressed concern), gay (16%) or ethnic minority (13%) candidates. So why is religion the last taboo? How bizarrely ironic that belief systems, often synonymous themselves with conservative and prudish views, are now being looked at through those narrow-minded goggles.
Muslims make up around 12.4 percent of London's population, which is nearly three times as much as the proportion they make up of the population (4.8%) across the UK. With over a million Muslims living in the capital, you'd be forgiven for presuming that such 'exposure' to the Islamic faith might have tempered Londoners' attitudes towards it and those who life by its principles.
Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim MP to be elected in London, has focused his mayoral campaign on issues that affect Londoner's - housing and pay being two of his top talking points, but he's also spoken out about his Muslim faith. He's quoted as saying that the election of a Muslim mayor would send an "awesome" message to the rest of the world about the tolerance and respect Londoners have for people from different religions. He must be more than a little shocked by LBC's revelation on air last week then.
Ultimately, be it Mr Khan or Mr Smith, we want a London mayor with the brains and guts to tackle the issues affecting Londoners and to ensure its progress as one of the best cities in the world. The views circulating on twitter articulating the quarms some people have with a Muslim mayor not only dent our previously glowing reputation as a happily multi-cultural city but could also hinder talented mayoral candidates in the future, potentially sparking an "I won't go for it / they won't want me because I'm X" stance. The ideal we're all striving for of course is that anyone (be they female, gay or Muslim) if they're best for the job, can get the job. LBC's poll results reveal that we all need to top up our understanding and awareness of Islam. With mainstream media telling the extreme stories (understandably because they are taking place in the world), there's a lot of getting to grips with the other, more sedate, less reported side of Islam and its followers to be done.
In an almost Taylor Swift-esque quote, Khan has said that a Muslim mayor of London would send a message "to all the haters in Iraq and Syria". So shake LBC's poll off Khan, shake it off.