British Peer Criticized for Calling Kamala Harris ‘the Indian’

LONDON – A colleague in the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected second chamber of parliament, was heavily criticized by lawmakers on Monday for simply referring to Kamala Harris, the elected vice president of the United States, as “Indian” on Twitter.

Peer Lord Kilclooney, a former elected MP from Northern Ireland, said on Twitter on Monday, “What if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes president? Who will then become Vice President? “

Ms. Harris, the daughter of an Indian-American mother and Jamaican-American father, is the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected Vice President of the United States.

Lord Kilclooney tried to defend his post by saying he did not know Ms. Harris’ name when he wrote it, the BBC reported, but British lawmakers condemned the comment as transparently racist.

Recognition…Pool photo by Chris Jackson

“This kind of racism would not be unacceptable to anyone, but to a member of the House of Lords it is a belief,” said Wes Streeting, a Labor lawmaker. “Action must be taken.”

Lord Fowler, who heads the Chamber as Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, asked Lord Kilclooney to apologize.

“Lord Kilclooney should step back and apologize,” he said. “This is an insulting way of relating to someone, much less a woman who has just made history. The comment is totally unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I couldn’t be more clear. “

Lord Kilclooney, a pro-British trade unionist who preferred Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, was criticized in 2018 for calling Leo Varadkar, then the Irish Taoiseach, a “typical Indian” after Mr Varadkar visited Northern Ireland . Mr. Varadkar is the son of an Indian born doctor and an Irish nurse.

Lord Kilclooney removed this comment from Twitter but defended himself by saying, “I am certainly not racist at all.”

The House of Lords decided not to formally investigate the matter, stating that it was outside the limits of what it could investigate.

The process of distributing peerages in the House of Lords, as life-long appointments to the Chamber are called, is often influenced by patronage and cronyism.

The chamber is intended to act as a control for the elected lower house and debates and changes laws, albeit with less power than the lower house.

Over the past few decades, however, it has mainly come to be known as a sinecure for wealthy donors and other well-connected types.

In response to Lord Kilclooney’s question, the new President appoints a successor to Vice-President, who must then be confirmed by both Congress Houses.

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