Former UUP Deputy Leader says he referred to Kamala Harris as “the Indian” as he didn’t know her name
John Taylor said he has withdrawn the reference as it “seems to have upset some people”.
A former Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) has withdrawn his reference to US vice-president elect Kamala Harris as “the Indian” after he said it “seems to have upset some people”.
John Taylor, who serves as a member of the House of Lords as John Kilclooney, posted on Twitter on Monday morning, saying: “What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?”
Taylor’s tweet was widely condemned on Monday, with Norman Fowler, Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, amongst those who called on him to apologise.
Lord Kilclooney should retract and apologise. 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 Speaker (@LordSpeaker) November 9, 2020
A subsequent tweet by Taylor on Monday afternoon did not include an apology, rather a withdrawal of the reference to Harris as an Indian.
Whilst Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as an Indian as it seems to have upset some people. I did not know her name and identified her with the term Indian. Most people understood.Racist NO.
— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) November 9, 2020
It is not the first time Taylor has courted controversy for his use of the term ‘Indian’, having referred to current Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “the Indian” in a conversation on Twitter in 2017.
Taylor defended himself at the time, saying that he is “no way racist” and accepted that Varadkar is “100 percent Irish citizen”.
Kamala Harris was born in California in 1964 to parents of Indian and Jamaican descent.
As part of the Biden administration, she will become the first Asian American, African American and female vice-president, as well as the highest ranking elected female official in the history of the United States.