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Editor’s blog Tuesday 13 July 2010: Reflections on Newsnight and Andrew Lansley

A few thoughts about last night's NHS Green-Going-On-White Paper special issue of Newsnight on BBC2.

1. Why did Kirsty Wark dress up as a humbug? Was this a visual reference to the mighty ambition but scant operational detail on offer in 'Equity And Excellence: Liberating the NHS'?

2. Andrew Lansley is maintaining his line that this is not a top-down NHS redisorganisation of the kind specifically ruled out in the Coalition Agreement because it "doesn't change hospital trusts, community services, GP surgeries". Eh? Does he think he'd have to go round painting the buildings mauve, rearranging the chairs and and taking off a few doors for it to count?

3. Lansley again. He's doing the 'hands' thing a lot on his media appearances. It's becoming quite mesmerising - 'don't look around the hands; look into the hands ... three, two, one, you're under'.

4. But for all the Mesmer hands thing, the Secretary of State for Health is developing an unfortunate querulousness when questioned. This was evident in his responses to audience questions after his speech to the NHS Confederation, and also came over strongly on Newsnight.

It is a disbenefit to Mr Lansley's cause to be so easily irritated. It draws out an unfortunate comparison with John Major - an apparently decent man who took criticism or questioning of his ideas as a personal affront. Which it isn't. It's discussion and debate.

Good ideas welcome, accept and deal with challenge.

UPDATE: Thank you for your email, by the way, and please keep them coming to editorial AT healthpolicyinsight.com. This (just in, from someone whose other half is a member of the Newsnight production team) gives a clue about the Lansloid querulousness: 'Lansley turned up and claimed he hadn't agreed to any Q&A. Kirsty Wark replied (accurately) that he, or his people, had. He responded that he wouldn't do Newsnight again if he was "set up like this".'

This is the man who's going to bring us a future without micro-management?