Ulster Unionist Peer Calls VP Kamala Harris ‘the Indian’ In Controversial Comment

Ulster Unionist Peer Calls VP Kamala Harris 'the Indian' In Controversial Comment

Lord Kilclooney AKA John Taylor, former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, is a life peer in the UK’s House of Lords. Yesterday he was told to apologise by the Lord Speaker for comments he made about incoming US Vice President Harris.

Ms Harris, who was born and raised in America, is of Jamaican and Indian descent. Her mother immigrated to the US from India and her father from Jamaica. She is the former Attorney General of California and is now, as Vice President of America, perhaps the second most powerful person in not just the States but the world.

In a tweet, the Ulster Unionist said, “What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?”

After the Lord Speaker told John Taylor to “retract and apologise” and with many of his fellow members of the House of Lords demanding an apology, Lord Kilclooney agreed to remove his comment. But would he apologise? Oh no!

“Whilst Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as Indian as it seems to have upset some people”, Taylor tweeted later on Monday.

“I did not know her name and identified her with the term Indian. Most people understood, racist NO.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said that “identifying a person by their race is offensive”.

The Lord Speaker went further. “The comment is entirely unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I could not be clearer,” he said.

Baroness Smith, Labour’s House of Lords leader said she and others plan to officially report the Ulsterman for his comments.

“I am so angry about this comment. It is despicable and beneath contempt and totally unacceptable from anyone – but especially from someone in parliament” she said.

When people started on Lord Kilclooney on Twitter over his comments about Kamala Harris, the peer said that he had not ” known her name yet”.

He later claimed that he had received massive support for his comments on social media. “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.”

Taylor’s got form in this regard, however. In 2018, he called the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar a “typical Indian”. Mr Varadkar is Irish. The former Taoiseach’s father is from India.

The comments have raised interest across the pond in America. Jon Wolfsthal, former special adviser to Joe Biden said that John Taylor “should be ashamed”.

Denouncements came from all sides of Northern Ireland politics, with everyone quick to disown comments like these about the new Vice President.

UK comedian Nish Kumar said, “This guy is a life peer. What a country.”

It’s unlikely that people in Ireland will want to be associated with these kinds of comments about anyone in the new US administration. Kind of lucky then that John Taylor, Lord Kilclooney, considers himself British, isn’t it?