Peer accused of racism after referring to Kamala Harris as ‘the Indian’
Ahead of the debate, the Lords has been the subject of focus after Lord Kilclooney was accused of racism for describing US vice president-elect Kamala Harris solely as “the Indian”.
The former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) deputy leader, John Taylor, was ordered to apologise and retract his tweet about Ms Harris, who has become the first black and Asian-American person to be elected to the role.
The crossbench peer, who previously deleted a tweet describing then-Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a “typical Indian”, insisted there was “nothing racist” in his latest post.
Ms Harris, a senator from California, also made history as the first woman to be elected vice president when voters chose her and Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump in the White House.
But Lord Kilclooney tweeted: “What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?”
The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, said the peer “should retract and apologise” after senior politicians said they would lodge complaints.
“This is an offensive way to refer to anyone, let alone a woman who has just made history. The comment is entirely unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I could not be clearer,” Lord Fowler added.
Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who is chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland affairs select committee, said the message was “Bad. Rude. Racist. Appalling” and that he had submitted a formal complaint to the Lord Speaker’s office.
Meanwhile, Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith, added: “I am so angry about this comment. It is despicable and beneath contempt, and totally unacceptable from anyone – but especially from someone in Parliament.”
Lord Kilclooney insisted his post was not racist.
“The first thing is to get it in perspective, the criticism is minor, the support is massive – I’ve never had so many Twitter followers in one day, ever,” he said.
“I’m very fond of India myself, I’m a member of the British India all-party group, I have two Indians (tenants) in my flats here in London and there’s nothing racist in it whatsoever.
“She’s proud of her Indian roots just as Biden’s proud to say he’s Irish.”
He later withdrew the remark.
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