THE optics though. After days of deserved condemnation for her use of militant language regarding the UK migrant crisis, Suella Braverman arrived at Manston migrant camp by Chinook. 

No need to ponder how the home secretary has received criticism for talking in terms of a "migrant invasion". She's leaning in. 

Rather, Braverman should look at Manston and despair. In accommodation designed for 1500 people, 4000 souls have been held without adequate food or bedding; antiquated disease like diphtheria has spread. Unaccompanied children are being held; a girl detained there in desperation sent a message in a bottle over the fence pleading for help. 

If these were the invaders and we were truly fighting a war against them, we would not lock up children but this is the UK asylum system in 2022 and nothing, it seems, is out of bounds.

The headlines have been particularly grim: the situation at Manston, the petrol bombing of a Dover immigration centre, the obvious utter chaos of asylum seekers being left at London's Victoria Station with nowhere to sleep. 

These have generated cries of shame and questions of how on earth we got here. Come on now.

This is no frog in the pot situation. The water has been on a rolling boil for years and Suella Braverman is merely a natural continuation of grim dealings ongoing since Brexit.

Lest we forget, the last home secretary's brainstorming efforts to resolve the migrant crisis included giant wave machines in the Chanel to force boats back to France and plans to  outsource asylum seekers to Ascension Island. 

It was on Priti Patel's watch that some of Britain's most regressive migration policies were introduced. The Nationality and Borders Act, which became law earlier this year, disregards rights for refugees and seekers of asylum, despite warnings from charities and lawyers. 

Braverman is following a line established during the Brexit campaign and adhered to since - that the UK would "take back control" of its borders.

The government's notion of control has been laughable, a sort of short man syndrome, if it weren't so offensive to short men, of taking its behaviour to extremes in order to appear more powerful than it is. Apparently the home secretary is now looking to send "illegal" migrants to Peru, Belize and Paraguay.

Given that the UK has paid Rwanda £120 million for accepting 400 refugees, none of whom has been sent yet, we'll be excused from viewing this as a viable solution.

It is much easier for Braverman to kick up a stink about small boat crossings than it is to tackle the logistical and administrative nightmare of fixing her department. 

Excuses are made for the current housing arrangements of people seeking asylum, such as Manston and widely used hotel accommodation. One of the more insidious lines is this casual mention of the fact the people being housed are "mainly single men". 

The subtext here seems to be that we should assume single men seeking asylum are nefarious, that they are gangsters or drug dealers. This then, seems to lead to the line that it's somehow ok to hold these single men in substandard accommodation as though they are less worthy of respect and decency.

It's a dangerous othering within a group of people who are already othered. Politicians frame people as the enemy and then use war rhetoric to suggest they can be fought. 

We see corners of the media going along with this framing. New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday show one in six people living in England and Wales were born outside the UK.

There was great agitation from some quarters to emphasise the great rise in the number of people born in Romania who are living in England and Wales, a return to the bad old days of scaremongering about the Eastern Europeans coming here, taking our jobs. 

The figures, it was said, will put ministers under fresh pressure to honour their pledges to take back control of our borders. The BBC reported that Suella Braverman had travelled to Dover "to see for herself how the UK is defending itself on the front line against migrants". 

Defending itself on the front line. This is unacceptable rhetoric; careless, harmful framing. 

It can be very difficult for residents in communities that experience a sudden increase in newcomers and very easy for do-gooding onlookers to chastise them for their concerns.

Unfounded concerns or ignorant trepidation are not salved by unquestioningly parroting them and certainly not by fuelling them with inflammatory language. 

Rishi Sunak appears content to step back and let Braverman take the rap for the government's handling of the problem but the issue is the collective failure of successive Conservative home secretaries and, given the current intense level of negative headlines and scrutiny, he and MPs in the party must be beginning to feel discomfort.

Fixing the broken immigration system was a key pledge of Brexit - whether you agree with the stance taken or not - and the endless Tory disasters here are doing nothing but damage to the idea of a party united around Sunak.

In the past few days Nigel Farage has re-emerged, invigorated and agitated and being given airtime. The Tories will want clear space between themselves and Farage's hard right come any general election. 

It is, then, vital for everyone involved to fix it. The solution is emphatically not by making the situation for arrivals as dire as possible is a foolhardy tactic.

It leaves the government open to legal challenge; it is a breach of human rights; it is literally and reputationally dangerous - and it will do little to deter desperate people from making the journey.

Are the British people xenophobic? How deep does racism run among the public? Scotland counts itself as exceptional on the issue of welcoming refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants.

Certainly the Scottish Government sets itself apart from its Westminster peers. Residents, though, north and south of the border, are generally open to newcomers and those who are against are only those who shout the loudest. 

It is a small minority that enjoy the militarised rhetoric of invasions and defence but the UK government prefers this insidious attack-based language because the whip of rhetoric is easier to wield than the whip of discipline needed to set its own house in order.

This week's headlines have laid bare the chaos at the heart of the UK's shambolic immigration system, a system that requires an overhaul underpinned by compassion and pragmatism.

There is little hope of progress for those relying on Britain for sanctuary. We have camps with interned children and all the while the home secretary plays at toy soldiers. 

That this is where are should come as no shock. It should, though, be the source of deep shame. 

Read more from Catriona Stewart:

Rwanda asylum plans are cruel but far from unusual for the Tories

A dream to be free of Suella Braverman and Tory anti-refugee policies

Insecurity of mediocre men drives the Angela Rayner story