The era of New Labour government has witnessed unprecedented growth in inclusive education policies. There is, however, limited evidence that policies have increased disabled children’s inclusion. This article explores reasons for this contradiction. Drawing on sociological insights, it is argued that New Labour policies on inclusive education take their cues from wider neo-liberal constructions of social exclusion; ideas that point to the personal deficits of the excluded rather than social barriers and inequalities that systematically exclude. Increasingly narrow definitions of educational success are likely to add to this exclusion. This mirrors New Labour’s broader social inclusion agenda in emphasising ‘conditional’ inclusion and an increasingly utilitarian approach to social policy. New Labour, it is argued, needs to review the lessons of history in reducing disabled children’s educational exclusion if real progress is to be made. Warnock’s recent attack on the principle of inclusive education makes this review all the more urgent.