10 November 2020 00:31
A former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist party and member of the House of Lords has been called on to apologise after referring to the US vice-president-elect as "the Indian" in a tweet. The Speaker of the Lords, Norman Fowler, was among those to demand John Kilclooney retract his remarks about Kamala Harris, who is the first black and Asian-American person to be elected to the role. The 82-year-old peer was widely criticised after tweeting: "What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Kamala Harris made history as the first female, first black and first Asian-American US vice-president-elect. Labour shadow minister Wes Streeting said "action must be taken" over the tweet and added: "This sort of racism would be unacceptable from anyone, but from a member of the House of Lords it beggars belief." "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," he tweeted.
He told the Press Association: "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." In 2018, Kilclooney was the subject of complaints after described Ireland's then taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, a "typical Indian", which he later said was a mistake. Doug Beattie, an Ulster Unionist party member of the Northern Ireland assembly, said the tweet was "poor" and urged the peer to delete it. A House of Lords peer has been slammed for a 'racist' tweet referring to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as 'the Indian'. Lord John Kilclooney asked his 11,500 Twitter followers this morning what would happen if new President-elect, Joe Biden, departed from the White House. The former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party wrote: 'What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President.
Following other criticism Lord Kilclooney, in a series of responding tweets, said he called Ms Harris "the Indian" because he did not know her name. He wrote: "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. In 2018, after referring to Mr Varadkar as "the Indian", Lord Kilclooney insisted he was not being racist. Lord Kilclooney has denied being racist when he described US vice president-elect Kamala Harris as "the Indian". The former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) deputy leader, also known as John Taylor, was ordered to apologise and retract his tweet about Ms Harris, who is the first black and Asian-American person elected to the role.
The cross-bench peer earlier insisted there was "nothing racist" in his tweet, which read: "What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Image: Kamala Harris has made history as the first vice president-elect woman of colour In a message on Monday afternoon, Lord Kilclooney said he had "withdrawn" the remark because "it seems to have upset some people". It follows the election of Ms Harris, the first black and Asian-American person to take up the post of American vice-president alongside her Democratic colleague Joe Biden. Lord Speaker Lord Fowler said the peer should retract his comments and apologise. It is not the first time Lord Kilclooney, a cross-bench peer, has been accused of racism, after he previously described then-Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar as "a typical Indian". He justified his previous tweet about Mr Varadkar by saying "I didn't know his name at the time" but, asked if he will delete his latest message now he knows Ms Harris's name, he said: "No, not indeed.