By Jack Thomson

Jocky Wilson, world darts champion in 1982 and 1989, died on Saturday night aged 62. He had been suffering from the lung disorder chronic pulmonary obstructive disease.

Sadly, lung disorders such as CPOD and pneumoconiosis, are common among ex miners. Jocky had been both a coal delivery man and also a miner at Kirkcaldy’s Seafield Colliery.

During a period of unemployment, he entered a darts competition at Butlins, Ayr and this persuaded him that he had an alternative career opening. He turned professional in 1979, and had considerable success until he stopped playing in 1995.

He reached at least the quarter-finals of every World Championship between 1979 and 1991 and was a four-time British champion between 1981 and 1988 and a three-time Scottish Masters champion.

Married to Argentian born Malvina, he had three children, a daughter Anne Marie, and two sons John and William.

According to the Mail on Sunday, UK Government have privately approved a plan to allow Scottish websites to end with .scot instead of .uk.  Plans to let Wales go it alone with ‘.wales’ and ‘.cymru’ have also been approved.  

However the UK Government has refused to allow the devolved administrations in Holyrood and Cardiff to use the domain name .gov.scot or .gov.cymru and are insisting that these bodies retain the existing .gov.uk.  The Mail on Sunday reports that UK government ministers is refusing to permit the use of the domain .gov.scot for fear of giving a boost to the independence campaign.  

English Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who was recently in the news as one of the MPs who were assaulted by Falkirk Labour MP Eric Joyce, reacted angrily to the announcement, saying that it was “nonsense”.  Mr Percy claimed that the UK government had “caved in” to the SNP on the issue.

Mr Percy said:  “Scotland hasn’t even voted yet on whether to go independent and all this is doing is giving First Minister Alex Salmond’s Nationalists a huge propaganda coup.”

There has been a long campaign in Scotland for the creation of a top level internet domain for the country.  

First Minister Alex Salmond has given his backing to the plan, saying:  “The time is ripe for the worldwide family of Scots to have their own domain, reflecting an online community defined by a shared commitment to Scottish identity, culture and economic promotion.”

Shoppers in the Western Isles capital, Stornoway were startled on Saturday by a strange cacophony of sounds.  The sticks and drones of a small pipe band competed with the raucous Klaxon horns of half a dozen articulated trucks and a similar number of vans as a rally of truckers made its way to the Town Hall.

The rally was organised by the Outer Hebrides Transport Group (OHTG), a recently-formed group of haulage businesses who are angry at the imminent expiry of the pilot Road Equivalent Tariff scheme for commercial vehicles on Western Isles ferries, which runs out at the end of this month.

The SNP has issued a challenge to the Scottish Tories over the Chancellor’s tax grab on pensioners urging the party to speak out for pensioners in Scotland who have been hit by the raid to fund a tax-cut for millionaires.

In his Budget speech Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a surprise move to freeze the personal tax allowances of people over the age of 65 while simultaneously cutting the top rate of tax for the highest paid earners.  The move was strongly criticised by opposition politicians and organisations representing the elderly.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s tax grab, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Just as Labour was forced to apologise over the 10p tax fiasco, the Tories must now say sorry and abandon their plans for this unfair tax hit on older people.

“There are more pensioners in Scotland affected by this pensioners poll tax than voters who supported the Tories at the last election.

“The Chancellor’s proposals will hit people with modest pensions and savings for their retirement and it is disgraceful that they are being targeted by the Treasury while millionaires and the richest earners like the Prime Minister are set to benefit from a tax cut. The Tories have their priorities all wrong.

“Last week’s Budget truly fails the fairness test when pensioners are penalised while millionaires get a tax cut from the Tories.

“The Chancellor should admit he got it wrong and reverse this unfair tax raid.”

Plaid Cymru’s spring conference opened at the Ffos Las racecourse in Carmarthenshire on Friday with a speech from Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards, who accused First Minister Carwyn Jones of ‘political grandstanding’.

Mr Edwards said that the Welsh Labour administration in Cardiff had ‘cut and pasted’ Plaid Cymru policies, such as calling for control of energy policy to be devolved to Wales.  However Mr Edwards said that Labour at Westminster had helped the Coalition Government defeat Plaid Cymru’s bill to transfer the powers to the Welsh Assembly.  

Mr Edwards added it was wrong to only blame only the Westminster coalition for Welsh economic problems saying that the ‘Blair-Brown’ regime had continued three decades of the same economic policies.  Mr Edwards said this proved that Labour was ‘Tory lite’.

He said the Labour party in Wales was divided over calls for further devolution and that Plaid Cymru’s most powerful argument was parity with Scotland.

Later on Friday the conference will see the first speech by new leader Leanne Wood, who is expected to outline her plans for a “green industrial revolution” in Wales as well as restating her case on why Wales should become independent.

Speaking before the conference, Ms Wood said:

“We should develop the case for real independence now. And that is not constitutional change for the sake of it, but independence so we can address the major problems we face.

“At the moment we’ve got a law-making assembly here, but it doesn’t have the powers and tools it needs to fully transform our economy.

“It’s unrealistic to expect us to prosper when we remain in the situation we are in. We are tied to an economy that puts all its effort into growing around London and the South East to the detriment of everyone else. Unless we change that and take more control of our own destiny, then our economy won’t prosper.”