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Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
That was the election week

And we all thought it was going to be boring!

The moment John Prescott led with his left changed all that. The Thrilla in Rhyla (copyright Welsh Mirror) suddenly made the election the talk of the town, and Two Jabs (copyright every tabloid) was the Deputy PM's new nickname.

Prescott's pugilism made headlines around the world. For the first, and possibly last time, pictures of Rhyl dominated bulletins from Rejkavik to Rangoon.

It was at home that the effect was the most electrifying. The Western Mail decided that it was on a par with Neil Armstrong on the moon and Kennedy being shot. Hmmm.

William and Ffion Hague
In Cardiff: William and Ffion Hague

Perhaps the paper was right, though. Because conspiracy theories sprang up with the speed of a Prescott punch.

It was a put-up job, they said, to deflect attention from Tony Blair's earlier mauling at the hands of a cancer sufferer's partner. Hmmm.

What other crazy idea would these fantasists dream up? That the Conservatives - the most successful electoral party anywhere, ever - would make a hash of their Welsh-language manifesto?

For an election that we all knew was coming for months? When their leader is married to a Welsh-speaker?

Oh, hang on, that's just what happened.

The Tories had to pulp the Welsh version of their masterplan when someone close to the very peak of the party - rumoured to be called Hague, and with fair hair, but with enough up top for two - pointed out the various mistakes.

Embarrassing enough at any time. But particularly excruciating on the day you launch your manifesto in Cardiff.

Still, at least no former Conservative ministers were cruel enough to draw attention to the fact in the chamber of the National Assembly for Wales.

Oh, hang on, that happened too.

That was Rod Richards, ex-Clwyd West MP, ex-Welsh Office Minister, ex-leader of the Welsh Tories, but now Independent Conservative AM for North Wales.

When First Minister Rhodri Morgan was being asked about progress on the Assembly's annual performance report, up popped Mr Richards.

He innocently sought reassurance that the Welsh version would be error-free, amid general hilarity.


Confronted: Sharon Storer and Tony Blair
Also doing their bit to keep us smiling were the Liberal Democrats. They launched a website using Plaid Cymru's name to attack the nationalists.

A cheap stunt, harrumphed Plaid. Can't you take a joke, asked Lib Dem AM Jenny Randerson? Ha, ha, ha said Plaid's Cynog Dafis.

Before all this, however, came the best newspaper introduction of the campaign so far, surely a masterpiece in post-modern irony.

It was from the Western Mail, and began "The Liberal Democrats were keeping Welsh voters on tenterhooks for their full policy proposals last night..."

You could certainly cut the tension with a knife around my way.

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