NEWS MONKEY

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The Independent Online
LILLEY THE PINKO. Peter Lilley's slightly less than Thatcherite speech enraged supporters of traditional uncaring Conservatism, but at least it has given him a key role in the re-branding of the Tory party - that of official scapegoat. He already looks the part, with an expression that makes it seem as if everything is his fault, and being William Hague's deputy is no job for a grown man anyway. Whether Lilley stays or goes,the Conservatives' uncompromising search for rock bottom will not cease until they find it.

VUK OFF. Yugoslavia's deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic has also been made a scapegoat - sacked by Slobodan Milosevic for his attempts to distance himself from his government's traditional policy of genocide. Leaving the government could be dangerous for Mr Draskovic, since as a civilian his chances of being hit by a bomb are slightly increased. Meanwhile, some other Vuk, opposition leader Vuk Obradovic, has called for Milosevic's resignation in an interview which Milosevic would not allow to be broadcast. Milosevic's increasing paranoia and ruthless control should serve as a shining example to William Hague.

FEELBAD TV. A study has found that people tend to watch rubbish TV when they are depressed, and that those who watch it generally feel guilty about having done so. It must be nice to work on Blind Date or Kilroy, knowing that you're making depressed people across the nation feel bad about themselves. But there is room for optimism: since ratings for these shows depend on a large segment of the population being mentally unwell, we may be able to get rid of them with the right medication.

TARA, LOVE. In what must surely be the first case of It Girl Syndrome, celebrity party-goer Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has decamped to a drying-out clinic in Arizona, worn out by a life of fun and money. Ironically, rehabilitation will probably render her unfit to continue her former profession, but she could get a job as a counsellor, warning young people of the dangers of extreme socialising.

SAINT SINEAD. Last week the pop singer Sinead O'Connor became a Catholic priest. Of course, she's not a real Catholic priest. She was ordained by Bishop Michael Cox, who's not a real Catholic priest either, in a hotel room in Lourdes. She has taken the name Mother Bernadette Marie, in the time-honoured tradition of lady priests, and will continue to perform wearing a dog collar. It's only a matter of time before the Pope - now a best-selling recording artist - rips up a picture of her on American TV. TIM DOWLING

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