Miéville says vicious cuts are ‘social cleansing’

Chine Mieville speaking to Suzanne Moore at Sutton House
China Mieville talks to Guardian journalist Suzanne Moore. Photo: National Trust

Award-winning author China Miéville has accused the government of putting London through “social cleansing”. The science fiction writer, who has lived in the capital since he was one year old, said that the welfare cuts were forcing the poor out of the city in a way that will be difficult to undo.

Speaking about his recently published book, ‘London’s Overthrow’, at Sutton House on Tuesday 16 October, Miéville said the government was “trying to change the political and social shape… so it is no longer a patchwork”.

He said the current cuts were “way more extreme than what Thatcher would have done”. Miéville, after speaking about Andrew Mitchell’s alleged outburst at police and the government’s welfare cuts, said “the viciousness of these people is unbelievable …another one of my hopes is that this toxicity will out”. The author also spoke out strongly against Boris Johnson, calling him a “ninja of bumptiousness”.

China Miéville, 40, twice winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction, stood in the 2001 General Election for the Socialist Alliance in the Regent’s Park and Kensington North Constituency. Though he feels at home in London, he said that during the Royal Wedding and the Olympic Games, he was unable to join in the excitement and anticipation of London. He said that these have been “the two moments when I’ve felt like an alien in my own city”.

His newest book started life as an article for the New York Times about the current state of London. Miéville said that while writing his piece, he felt that the mood of London was “on a knife edge,” stuck between the horror of the riots and the forthcoming Olympics.

He was feeling “very dystopian” while crafting his newest work, appreciating that now he feels “slightly less embattled” about the state of London. He said that his book “was never meant to lay out an agenda, it was a sort of temperature taking” of London’s mood.

Speaking about his “hallucinatory” sense of London, Miéville said: “I don’t pretend to be a journalist”. He said that a creative piece of work described London, “perhaps in a way that rigorous reporting couldn’t do.”

Talking to Suzanne Moore, award-winning journalist for the Guardian and Hackney resident, the author discussed the causes of the London riots. He said that the 2011 riots were an outlet for the public after a moment of police aggression: “I suspect we’re going to get the next riot when there’s the next death.”

For more information on further talks hosted by Pages of Hackney at Sutton House, visit: http://pagesofhackney.co.uk/