Politics is an ugly business and there’s nothing uglier than Messrs Howard and Davies scoring the easiest points of their miserable careers from the Romanian visa scam. They’re so in tune with the Daily Mail’s second-rate racial hygiene fantasies that it makes me nauseous. The apparent chaos in the immigration service is hardly encouraging (another frustrating, pointless own-goal) but nothing in this story supports the phony hysteria and gutless populism of the Tories – they can barely contain their glee. It’s like free money for a bankrupt political force like the post-Thatcher Conservative Party.

Sealing the borders – rolling on the giant National condom against foreign contamination – is an almost irresistible policy for a mainstream politician at a time of crippling uncertainty, real threats from brown-skinned terrorists and accelerating globalisation of capital and labour. That doesn’t make their disreputable double-act any nicer to watch. This is the lowest point in Howard’s leadership so far and something tells me we’ll see lower.

Some links: today’s Downing Street press briefing on the topic – scrabbling when they should be kicking Howard smartly into the weeds. The Commons debate according to today’s Evening Standard and tomorrow’s Independent. A gripping piece from The Guardian about the business of preparing ‘business plans’ for wannabe immigrants in Sofia.

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