In the 1997 British General Election the race issue appeared to count for little or nothing in constituency battles beyond those 44 seats in which an ethnic minority candidate was fielded. Almost all these constituencies contained sizeable ethnic minority electorates. The exception, whilst interesting and a powerful alternative to the framework discussed in this article, is just that: an exception to an underlying and far-reaching pattern in the political integration of ethnic minorities in Britain. Minority representatives plainly have the potential to enter the mainstream but so far they have generally not done so. Curiously, this is in large part the consequence of distinct racialisation processes that have opened up new opportunities whilst curbing others. In terms of the intersection between representative politics and racial politics at the end of the decade, the impression is underlined that race counts, but for ethnic minorities alone.