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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 00:51 GMT 01:51 UK
Whitehall drinkers stoic in face of cuts
By Brian Wheeler
BBC News Online political reporter

A mood of stoic resignation hung over the pubs and wine bars of Whitehall, following Chancellor Gordon Brown's announcement on Monday of 100,000 civil service job cuts.

Whitehall
Whitehall was strangely deserted on Monday
"I'll believe it when I see it," shrugged one civil servant enjoying a quiet pint of lager in the Red Lion, one of Whitehall's favourite watering holes, a stone's throw from 10 Downing Street.

"I've heard it all before. It's all very well making announcements", he said, warming to his theme, "but it is civil servants that actually have to implement it.

"And Turkeys don't vote for Christmas."

Like just about everyone I spoke to, he did not want to be named.

Even for a Monday night, the hostelries of SW1 were unusually quiet.

If politicians want a cheap headline, they bash the civil service
Foreign office worker
Any journalist expecting pin-striped hordes crying into their post-work pints or waiting for Gordon Brown in the Treasury car park muttering darkly of revenge (and BBC News Online was far from alone in this quest) would have been disappointed.

Apart from the usual groups of bemused-looking tourists, the streets around Britain's ministries of state were strangely deserted.

On the face of it, the only storm clouds looming over Whitehall on Monday night were the sort that threatened light showers.

Yet many of the men and women from the ministry BBC News Online spoke to were quietly seething.

"If politicians want a cheap headline, they bash the civil service," said a man emerging from the Foreign Office.

"What you are actually going to find when it gets down to it is that a lot of things will stop being done which the public would like to be done.

"I am not saying everything is perfect, some people no doubt deserve to lose their jobs, but if any private sector employer behaved in this way there would be an outcry," he added as he unfurled his umbrella.

'More money for us'

Another woman, who worked for the Foreign Office, said: "Although it won't affect us directly, you do start to feel a little persecuted. Civil servants are an easy target."

The Red Lion: A favourite civil service watering hole
There was also a worrying undercurrent of schadenfreude.

"We are all from the Treasury, so I don't think we can comment!," said one chap, whose party seemed to be enjoying itself a little too much for early on a Monday evening.

"We are all local government workers, so we think it's great," another man told me in the Marquis of Granby, round the corner from Defra's Smith Square HQ, "more money for us!"

Another group of government workers in the Red Lion said they had just got back from Baghdad and didn't really know what was going on.

They suggested I try a less-exalted boozer.

"You tend to get higher ranks of civil servant in here who probably won't be affected. Have you tried the pubs around Trafalgar Square?"

In Speaker's, a watering hole round the corner from the Department of Trade and Industries, one of the departments most threatened by cuts - the mood was sanguine.

"It is just something that seems to happen every 15 years or so," one woman told me, sipping a vodka and tonic.

"I don't think there is very much we can do about it."




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