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Following criticism, former UUP deputy leader deletes 'appalling' tweet about Kamala Harris

John Taylor referred to Kamala Harris without using her name, and solely as “the Indian”. He later deleted the tweet.

Image: Andrew Harnik via PA Images

Updated Nov 9th 2020, 7:43 PM

NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS HAVE been made about a veteran Armagh politician’s comment referring to the US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as “the Indian”.

John Taylor, who is also known as Lord Kilclooney, is the former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party; he was in the role at the time that the Good Friday Agreement was being negotiated and struck.

He is now a member of the House of Lords, and has been accused of making racist comments on several occasions – including in 2018 against then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who he referred to as a “typical Indian”. He later deleted the tweet, and repeatedly denied the comments were racist.

Taylor tweeted the following out (before deleting it later):

What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?

UUP leader Steve Aiken has released a statement today calling Taylor’s comments “reprehensible”:

There is simply no excuse for it. He should delete what he has said and apologise. This isn’t the first time he has done something like this, but it should be the last.

Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who is chair of the Commons Northern Ireland affairs select committee, wrote that Taylor’s comment was “Bad. Rude. Racist. Appalling” and said he had submitted a formal complaint to the Lord Speaker’s office.

Another Tory MP Robert Halfon said that the comment was “appalling”. Labour shadow minister Wes Streeting said “action must be taken” over the peer’s tweet.

The Speaker of the House of Lords Norman Fowler has said that Taylor 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.

Taylor later deleted the tweet, saying it had been “cancelled”, and then accused the Lords speaker of being “misinformed”.

Earlier, when Taylor was asked on Twitter by other users why the term “the Indian” was used at all, and why Kamala Harris’ name wasn’t used, he replied

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“Afraid I did NOT know her name. She is totally new to me. Now I know it is Harris. Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris to be Indian. Both have every right to do so. I deplore some media describing her as being black. Colour racism should not be introduced.”

When asked if being Indian was something to be ashamed of, he replied:

“Nothing to be ashamed about. Indians are amongst the most reliable people. I have two as tenants so I have the experience.”

Taylor previously referred to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar as a “typical Indian” and accused him of “poor manners” after a visit to Northern Ireland; when asked to explain what he meant, he replied that it was “typical of this particular half Indian”. He later deleted the tweet, and repeatedly denied being a racist.  

Kamala Harris is the first woman, the first black person and the first Asian-American person to be elected to the role of vice president of the United States.

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