Like sex in Victorian England, it has been said, race is a taboo subject in contemporary polite society. Conflicts or attitudes that to the simpleminded might appear to be self-evidently racial are explained away as class-based, or as difficulties attending immigration, or as responses to special local circumstances. Certainly, race relations are not an area in which political reputations are easily made, and outspokenness on the subject seems to be the preserve of those who have little to lose, their having either departed the scene or not yet arrived at it.