Wales politics

Rhodri Morgan 'the absolute master of the one liners'

Rhodri Morgan Image copyright Wales News Service

Rhodri Morgan was known for his unique turn of phrase making him an entertaining presence on TV and radio.

Wales' former first minister died on Thursday, aged 77. He was elected as an MP in 1987 and became an AM when the assembly was created in 1999.

Many have paid tribute to his wit and charm, with former first minister Alun Michael describing him as "the absolute master of the one-liner".

Here are some of his best quotes.

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Media captionMr Morgan was known for his unique turn of phrase

In 1998, he appeared on BBC's Newsnight and when asked by Jeremy Paxman if he wanted to be first minister, Mr Morgan replied: "Do one-legged ducks swim in a circle?" It prompted a bemused Paxman to ask: "Is that Welsh for yes?"

On finally getting the job of first minister in February 2000, he said: "I'm going to uncork the Welsh champagne bottle and let it fizz."

Image copyright PA

During an assembly debate on police reform, he commented: "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."

In 2003, Mr Morgan took Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan to task after he criticised the quality of assembly debates, saying: "It's like a child shooting both its parents and then complaining about the food in the orphanage."

The Queen may not have been amused the following year, when he arrived late for her visit to Builth Wells in Powys. He defended himself saying: "I wasn't late, the Queen was early."

Image copyright Wales news service

Mr Morgan also had choice words about opponents and different ruling regimes.

On the Conservatives, he quipped: "The Tories' relationship with Wales is based on trust and understanding. We don't trust them and they don't understand us."

And on the difference between his administration and that of his predecessor Alun Michael, he said: "We had developed a reputation for political shenanigans and being incapable of running our own affairs, and that's how it appeared to people.

"Drama is fine but if drama implies that the Welsh couldn't run a whelk stall, then that's a problem."

Mr Morgan once said an MP in New Labour stood for "Material for Promotion, Mandelson Poodle and Millbank Pagee," while his version of Welsh for spin doctor was "a practitioner of gyratory medicine".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Tory AM Nick Ramsay tweeted one of his most memorable of Mr Morgan's lines

Paying tribute to Tony Blair after the prime minister announced his departure, Mr Morgan said: "It's very strange for me to be standing here today talking about a person who shafted me on one occasion but on the other hand, compared to what has happened with Iraq, I think that's pretty small beer to be honest with you.

"Life is far too short to be bearing grudges of that sort."

Following a heart scare in 2007, Mr Morgan said he would like to spend his last day in the company of dolphins, whose staple diet of oily fish he adopted.

"Because their interest is mackerel and my interest is mackerel... I want to be able to communicate with the dolphin to say, 'well I have changed my diet to something much more like yours now'."

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