Who is the Public of ‘Public Order’? Sovereignty, Citizenship and the Commons

[Note: this is the Dissertation I wrote for my Birkbeck LLB, which concluded in 2016. It touches on matters of the definition of, and political and policing implications of the term ‘public’ as it appears in Public Order law in England & Wales. In the background are the experiences I personally had campaigning with Defend the Right to Protest, and more specifically in relation to supporting Alfie Meadows in his on-going attempt to defend himself against the state and receive justice].


‘There is an order to be found, within things and between them, which binds and directs this world … No sooner does one lift one’s head to pay attention to the obstacles and difficulties of life, than it comes natural to ask how it is that on the one hand God takes care of human affairs, and on the other these same affairs are shot through with so much evil’ – St Augustine[1]

‘At a moment when our grasp of the concept of the public has become so confused, paradoxes multiply and compound the confusion’ – Dan Hind[2]

‘In public order law, legal powers and regulation are defined by vague terms, such as breach of the peace; threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; and causing harassment, alarm or distress. Therefore, the police’s discretionary powers are so wide that virtually any action can, depending on its context, be plausibly branded as criminal so as to justify an arrest’ – Iain Channing[3]

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The Mechanics of Fate


What will our wager with the universe be? The more exhausted we are the more we look for signs. Or at least, the more signs take on a meaning for us. Where sometimes we are protected by a thin veneer of distance, the universe can always pour in. How can we make sense of this overwhelming feeling? We can make a bet – if the next car to come around the corner is red, then everything will be okay; if this object remains unbroken, then things are not so bad; if the cat says hello back, then I know that I exist. We rationalise our losses as we exaggerate our victories. To bet on the universe is to make a bet with all that which exceeds our control. We need to mediate our relative powerlessness – all the more so when we feel that our grip has gone and our skin faces only outwards.

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July 4th: Diaries 1991-2000




Time: 12.50am

Today’s been good in places. Had rehearsal for Shakespeare and M etc were taking the piss out of C (again). IN the evening B came round before the Barn Dance in fact here she is now: hello – yes its me the famous (big-headed Bolchy) B! All I’d really like to say is I’M IN LOVE his name (confidential info here) MM!!! yes queer name lush person. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Nx

As you can see she’s mad(ly) (in love!) Went to Neston Barn dance tonight. It was a bit of laf! J + B J came round this afternoon. They’re both sweet!

See ya,


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