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UK Disability History Month

Ian Stanton

Ian Stanton has been called a natural-born rebel.  He was an icon of the Disability Rights movement in the 1980s and 90s, and undoubtedly one of its foremost lyricists, until his untimely death in 1998. But his music and ideas have lasting significance for Disability Arts. A star on the UK disability arts circuit and founder member of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), he was the headline act for a disability arts cabaret event in 1996. 

All social and political movements need art and music to spread the message and rally supporters. Songs linger in the minds of marchers and demonstrators as they travel homewards. Songs stick around long after the litter has been picked and the sun has set. 

Ian’s natural rebelliousness served him well for his role as champion for equality for all minority groups, and ace exponent of the principles of independent living. A gifted songwriter, his lyrics encapsulated the joy and humour, as well as the anger and determination, that fuelled disabled people’s struggle for civil rights and social inclusion. 

“Ian had a way of getting the message across in a non-threatening, humorous and accessible way, but still quite hard-hitting.” 

An example is his ‘Message from Telethon’, a song he co-wrote with Cathy Avison about ITV’s annual fundraising jamboree, against which large demonstrations were staged by disabled people. 

"Come and get your money, grateful crips 
This year was better than ever before 
There’ll be millions of Blackpool trips 
Endless segregated fun in store. 

It’s a message from Telethon to you 
A whole line of them saying 
How much they do for you 
And it’s said so often it must be true"


Also see:  Documentary about Ian Stanton, First broadcast on Channel 4 in 1993

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