Foot in Mouth Award
|Foot in Mouth Award|
|Awarded for||"a baffling comment by a public figure."|
|Presented by||Plain English Campaign|
|Currently held by||Toby Young (2020)|
The Foot in Mouth Award is presented each year by the Plain English Campaign for "a baffling comment by a public figure". The award was first made in 1993, when it was given to Ted Dexter, the chairman of selectors for the England cricket team. It was awarded again the following year, and, after a two-year break, annually from 1997.
The Plain English Campaign was set up in 1979 when the founder, Chrissie Maher, shredded hundreds of jargon-filled forms and documents in Parliament Square, London. The group made their first awards the next year, rewarding those organisations that used plain English, and highlighting those that did not. Although the Foot in Mouth award was first made in 1993, a specific acknowledgment was made to a comment by Dan Quayle, Vice President of the United States in 1991.
The award has been presented 20 times, and only Rhodri Morgan and Boris Johnson have received it more than once. The Welsh politician won in both 1998 and 2005, and made a light-hearted response to his second win, claiming that the first award had "made [his] name." Politicians have been recipients of the award more times than any other group of people, collecting it on 14 occasions; people from the world of sport have won four times. The 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, received the award in 2008, with the subtitle "Lifetime Achievement Award", given not for a single quote, but for his continued "services to gobbledygook".
|1991||Dan Quayle||Although the Foot in Mouth award was not introduced until 1993, the Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle received a special mention during the 1991 awards for his tent metaphor: "We offer the party as a big tent. How we do that [recognise the big tent philosophy] with the platform, the preamble to the platform or whatnot, that remains to be seen. But that message will have to be articulated with great clarity."|||
|1993||Ted Dexter||–||Dexter, a senior figure in the Marylebone Cricket Club, won the inaugural award for trying to explain a loss by the England cricket team by saying: "Maybe we are in the wrong sign. Maybe Venus is in the wrong juxtaposition with something else. I don't know."|||
|1994||Gordon Brown||As the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown gave a speech on "New Economics" full of baffling jargon such as; "the growth of post neo-classical endogenous growth theory" and "debate over the meaning and implications of competitiveness at the level of individuals, the firm or the nation and the role of government in fashioning modern industrial policies which focus on nurturing competitiveness."|||
|1997||Nick Underwood||–||A member of the Teletubbies marketing department, Underwood won the award for his explanation that; "in life, there are all colours and the Teletubbies are a reflection of that. There are no nationalities in the Teletubbies – they are techno-babies, but they are supposed to reflect life in that sense."|||
|1998||Rhodri Morgan||Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of Wales, confused interviewer Jeremy Paxman when asked if he would like to be leader of the Welsh Assembly, by responding: "Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?"|||
|1999||Glenn Hoddle||The England football manager won the award for his response to a question about his earlier comments that disabled people were born that way because they were being punished for sins in former lives: "I do not believe that. At this moment in time, if that changes in years to come I don't know, but what happens here today and changes as we go along that is part of life's learning and part of your inner beliefs. But at this moment in time I did not say them things and at the end of the day I want to put that on record because it has hurt people."|||
|2000||Alicia Silverstone||The American actress, star of Clueless, was awarded for her comment: "I think that Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."|||
|2001||Tracey Emin||Artist Tracey Emin won the award for her comment: "When it comes to words I have a uniqueness that I find almost impossible in terms of art – and it's my words that actually make my art quite unique."|||
|2002||Richard Gere||The American actor was presented with the award for his philosophical comment: "I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and somebody said I was a snake, I'd think 'No, actually I am a giraffe.' ".|||
|2003||Donald Rumsfeld||For his overuse of the word "know" during a press briefing given as United States Secretary of Defense: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know."|||
|2004||Boris Johnson||During the BBC's light-hearted news quiz show Have I Got News for You, Conservative politician Johnson commented, "I could not fail to disagree with you less."|||
|2005||Rhodri Morgan||Welsh politician Rhodri Morgan's second award was given for a quote made during a debate on policing; "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."|||
|2006||Naomi Campbell||The English supermodel picked up the award for saying, "I love England, especially the food. There's nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta."|||
|2007||Steve McClaren||For describing footballer Wayne Rooney: "He is inexperienced, but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through", when talking to BBC Radio 5 Live in his role as England manager.|||
|2008||George W. Bush||Bush's award was made during his final year in office as President of the United States. Entitled a "Lifetime Achievement Award", it was given for his "services to gobbledygook". His gaffes were described as covering a large number of topics, and included comments such as "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe – I believe what I believe is right", and, "I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'what did he say?' "|||
|2009||Peter Mandelson||Awarded for the Labour politician's remark on the investigation into the United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal; "Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right."|||
|2010||Jamie Redknapp||Repeated misuse of the word "literally" made during his career as a sports commentator, in such quotes as: "These balls now – they literally explode off your feet."|||
|2011||Silvio Berlusconi||The former Italian Prime Minister received the award for comments such as "I am pretty often faithful", when talking about fidelity in 2006, and describing Barack Obama in 2008 as being "Handsome, young and also suntanned".|||
|2012||Mitt Romney||U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney received the award for making gaffes on the domestic front: "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me"; on the international stage, for example, regarding the London Olympics: "There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging"; and generally incomprehensible comments such as "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love."|||
|2013||Godfrey Bloom||United Kingdom Independence Party MEP Godfrey Bloom, who sits in the body as an Independent, received the award after making a series of controversial statements in 2013, including describing countries that receive foreign aid from the UK as "Bongo Bongo Land", saying that women don't "clean behind the fridge enough", jokingly referring to female members of an audience as "sluts" and assaulting one journalist and threatening another. A spokesman called him "an overwhelming choice" who "could easily have won this award on at least two other occasions... [he's] a wince-inducing gaffe machine and we could fill a page or two with his ill-advised quotes from 2013 alone."|||
|2014||Russell Brand||The Plain English Campaign said that Brand was "out on his own" among contenders for the title, adding: "While we admire Russell's determination to open up a debate about democracy and the dire state of the world, we struggle to make sense of most of his comments."
Among Brand's quotes singled out by the campaign as award-winners were: "The internal mayhem I'm feeling is spilling out everywhere. I loved it, and felt very connected to activism – particularly activism that feels loaded with potential. Not the oppositional activism that seems like there's a stasis around it – earnestly sincere, but a monolith equal to the establishment."
|2015||Donald Trump||Donald Trump was at the time campaigning for the Republican nomination in the 2016 US presidential election. The Plain English Campaign said that Trump was "unrivalled". In particular the campaign cited his remarks on Mexican immigrants: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." It also cited his remarks on John McCain: "He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured."|||
|2016||Boris Johnson||Boris is regularly a contender for the Foot in Mouth Award and this year[when?] proved no exception. This, Boris's second win, was secured by the unsinkable: "Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a Titanic success of it."|||
|2017||Jacob Rees-Mogg||Jacob Rees-Mogg, elbowing aside regular Foot in Mouth favourites Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, described food banks as "rather uplifting". Most people consider food banks deeply worrying symptoms of the widening gulf between rich and poor. Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, seemed to delight in working families relying on charity to survive.|||
|2018||Elon Musk||Musk received the award for the comment, "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it." as part of a set of comments on Twitter against Vern Unsworth, who would go on to lead the rescue of several stranded Thai children.|||
|2019||Boris Johnson||For replying to a reporter asking if he can "make a promise to the British public [to] not go back to Brussels and ask for another delay to Brexit" with "Yes, I can. I'd rather be dead in a ditch" at a press conference in Wakefield, West Yorkshire on 5 September. Johnson later wrote to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to request for a delay of Brexit after being compelled to do so by the Benn Act.|||
|2020||Toby Young||Young took the victory in 2020 with his comments on the COVID-19 pandemic, stating in a Telegraph article "I’m going to go out on a limb and predict there will be no ‘second spike’ – not now, and not in the autumn either. The virus has melted into thin air. It's time to get back to normal."|||
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