Friday, December 11, 1998 Published at 18:12 GMT
Duck scores MP bad English award
Rhodri Morgan: "Does a one legged duck swim in circles?"
A Labour candidate to lead the party into the elections for the new National Assembly for Wales has been given the prestigious Foot in Mouth award by the campaign for Plain English.
Responding to a question from presenter Jeremy Paxman on whether he was considering standing as a candidate for the Labour leadership in the assembly Mr Morgan said: "Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?"
Mr Paxman then took the remarks as Welsh for "yes".
Do bears . . . ?
Unable to attend the ceremony in person Mr Morgan sent a letter of acceptance, saying: "I am happy to accept the award in the spirit with which it was intended.
"I should however say in mitigation that the phrase I used was an attempt at a colourful expression in what is, after all, my second language.
"In addition, I also understand that the Pope is indeed a Catholic and that the arboreal dwelling creatures of the family Ursidae are not known to be users of the flush toilet."
Mr Morgan added: "I think I got the award because people actually enjoyed seeing Jeremy Paxman's jaw drop onto his chest and both of his eyebrows shoot skyward at the same time instead of just one."
He said he had remembered the quote from a Cardiff rugby player who had been awarded a Welsh cap and was asked if he was pleased to play for the national team.
But Today programme presenter John Humphrys was singled out for an Crystal Clear Award for his plain speaking.
He said: "The more we use language that everybody can understand the less 'they', that's, professionals and politicians, can get away with anything."
Politicians singled out for Golden Bulls
Home Secretary Jack Straw and Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson were also honoured by the Plain English Campaign Awards both receiving a coveted Golden Bull.
"Mitigation: Most of those to whom this guidance was addressed have first class honours in gobbledygook.
"However that is little excuse. Your award should encourage us to do better in future."
A Safeway store in Chapel-on-le-Frith, in Derbyshire, also won a Golden Bull for attempting to recruit an "ambient replenishment controller", or shelf-stocker.
Tax collectors in Greater Manchester won the same award for including a 240-word sentence in a letter to a complainant.
But the PEC 1998 Awards had praise for The Express newspaper, BBC presenter Terry Wogan, Halifax Financial Services, the National Westminster Bank, Abbey National, Bromsgrove District Council, Cornwall County Council and London Borough of Southwark.
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