FIRST Minister Rhodri Morgan today became the first person to win a high-profile UK award for the most baffling statement of the year twice.
Judges awarded him this year's Plain English Campaign "Foot in Mouth" prize for comments during an Assembly debate on policing when he said, "The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it's fair to say it's all to play for, except for no change."
This year's win follows his triumph in 1998 for his celebrated "one-legged duck" remark on BBC's Newsnight.
Dave Smith, a spokesman for the campaign which highlights examples of gobbledygook, said, "We hope he doesn't think this is part of a personal vendetta.
"Funnily enough, he won last time for the way he declared his wish to be leader of the Assembly, which of course he now is.
"Speaking directly and keeping to the point when addressing an audience is harder than people think - just ask George Bush. All it takes is a loss of concentration for a moment and the audience are confused, resulting in many different interpretations of what has actually been said.
"Unfortunately, the confusion can then spread from the resulting memos and media reports. Having said that, often such 'concentration lapses' are hilarious."
Mr Morgan, together with one of his Ministers, seems to have hit a rich vein of verbal form during this autumn's Assembly session.
First there was what can only be described as Cardiff Bay's modern answer to Gertrude Stein's famous line, "A rose is a rose is a rose."
In this case he was referring to a pamphlet by Labour MP Chris Bryant criticising Assembly health policy, when he said, "Well, a pamphlet is a pamphlet, and is nothing more than a pamphlet, and a pamphlet is of its nature because it is not based on any serious research."
However, it was during an Assembly debate on Home Secretary Charles Clarke's apparent preference for merging Wales' four police forces into one that both Mr Morgan and the Social Justice Minister really got into their stride.
First Mr Morgan said, "He has consulted on everything except what you might call 'no change'.
"The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it's fair to say it's all to play for - except for no change."
Edwina Hart then made her equally beguiling contribution, saying, "Let's get the anger and frustration out today but let's not take our eye off the ball. I'm not saying we will win the day but the day we have to win might not be the day next year but it might be in a few years' time when we will have a structure here that can be satisfactorily devolved to us."
Mr Morgan's previous win was for his memorable exchange with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. When asked if he wanted to be Labour's leader of the new Assembly he replied, "Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?"
Responding to the award, an Assembly Government spokeswoman said,
"The First Minister answers questions for an hour every Tuesday. Supplementary questions are without notice and cover just about everything that happens in Wales. Under those circumstances, we would defy anyone to be word-perfect 100% of the time."
Last night Mr Morgan said, "I won this award before for my 'Does a one-legged duck swim in a circle?' quote. In fact, it made my name!
"Jeremy Paxman is still trying to work out whether there is a deeper meaning behind my proverb.
"This latest award is not quite in that class so it must have been a thin year. Nevertheless, I am delighted that the Plain English Campaign tunes in to the Welsh Assembly every Tuesday for my question time waiting for another one-legged duck."
Page 2 - Other past winners of the Plain English Campaign's 'Foot in Mouth' award