Tuesday, January 18

Home Affairs Select Committee discuss darts
Forget the forthcoming election, the Iraq occupation, Prince Harry and Celebrity Big Brother. My MP Tom Watson has been involved in the big debate of the day.

Should darts be officially recognised as a sport?

It seems top level discussions within the Home Affairs Select Committee have placed the issue firmly on the national agenda. We can only hope that darts will feature strongly in Tony Blair's election manifesto.

Colchester Lib Dem MP Bob Russell is a strong supporter of the yes campaign and on Monday raised the issue in parliament:

"Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Whether it is her policy to support darts being recognised as a sport.

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): Decisions on whether particular activities and pastimes should be recognised as sports for official and funding purposes are made by unanimous agreement between the sports councils. I understand that the sports councils keep the matter under constant review, but I was pleased to see today that darts has signed up to UK Sport's anti-drugs code, which I welcome.

Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) (Con): What about drink?

Mr. Caborn: To the best of my knowledge, alcohol is not covered by UK Sport's anti-drugs code. I hope that, in the light of that development, the sports councils will give more serious consideration to bringing darts into the family of sport.

Bob Russell: If the Prime Minister said that he would like darts to become a recognised sport, would the Minister for Sport and Tourism throw a wobbly? Will he make a 180° turn, and throw his full weight behind the campaign to make darts a recognised sport, as millions of players and supporters already believe that it is a sport?

Mr. Caborn: How much further can I go than say that I welcome darts signing up to the UK anti-drugs code? I hope that the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, their sports councils and their English counterparts will consider bringing darts into the family of sport, whether the Prime Minister did, or did not say that he wanted that to happen."

I'm backing the campaign - who's with me?