Although the majority of Britain’s disabled people are also older people, there has been relatively little exchange between policy making in the areas of disability and old age. This article highlights some significant similarities and differences in the social claims made by groups representing older people and disabled people in policy debates under New Labour. Using recent policy examples, the analysis focuses on the claims being made by older and disabled people and the discourses, representations and strategies used to make them. The article suggests that there are considerable areas of common ground on which political alliances and common voice could be built, but there is also evidence of a tactical or discursive distancing between the two groups. These difficulties are interpreted with reference to the centrality of independence and paid employment within policy debates under New Labour.
Mark PriestleyCentre for Disability Studies, University of Leeds, UK