SO who’s feeling proud of the so-called Mother of Parliaments today? This week began with news that the UK Government has no workable plan for leaving the EU without wreaking economic and social havoc in Ireland. It moved on to the revelation that 10 Democratic Unionist MPs are holding the Government and the whole Brexit process to ransom. And it reached what may not yet be the apex of toe-curling absurdity yesterday, when Brexit Secretary David Davis jauntily admitted there are no sector-by-sector studies on the impact of leaving the EU.

Yes, the Commons had asked for them. Yes, the UK Government kinda suggested it would deliver them. But no, such studies have not actually been produced.

READ MORE: Impact assessments on leaving the EU do not exist, says Brexit secretary David Davis

Why not? Well what would they really have achieved anyway? As jaws crashed around Westminster, Davis joshed in a Monty Pythonesque way about definitions – is an impact assessment the same as a sectoral analysis, or more like a quantitative forecast?

David, dinnae fash. Dinnae try to conceal whit we a ken.

Ye havenae a scoobie nor a care about the economic destruction Brexit is about to unleash. Neither Theresa May nor yoursel has the slightest steering control over Brexit, so the idea there could be any fine-tuning is laughable. A wee promise to keep the children happy. We ken.

Of course angry MPs will now demand action against David Davis, civil servants will schedule a few more phone calls between Theresa May and the outraged leaders of devolved nations, Brexit-supporting columnists will somehow defend David Davis whilst the rest of the UK press mournfully predicts a tanking when trade talks finally start later this month/decade/century. But none of it makes much difference.

This is Britain you see. It’s a country that doesn’t make rational decisions based on planning, research and calm argument. Britain busks it. Like any faded power preoccupied with its former glory days, the British Government expects that the little people in mainland Europe will finally cave in and agree a deal that suits no-one but the UK – such is the mesmerising power of our special, glorious and unique status.

The fact that no cave-in is on the horizon and solidarity with tiny Ireland clearly matters as much to Europeans as future relations with mighty Britain – that’s all been a bit too much to take in. And far too late to change.

After all, Britain’s arrogant, cavalier negotiating outlook wasn’t arrived at overnight. Hell no. It has taken centuries to perfect. Long centuries where other nations modernised their voting systems so one party couldn’t grab 100 per cent of the power to hold a pointless, badly framed referendum and take us out of the European Union with just 37 per cent of the popular vote. Long centuries where written constitutions elsewhere gave formal negotiating rights to constituent nations smaller than Scotland. Long centuries where checks and balances were developed across Europe as vital democratic levers, not inconvenient brakes on progress to be jettisoned if truly important interests (like those of the City of London) were under threat.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad and serious. But it’s vitally important for supporters of Scottish independence to believe that another path was possible and still is – for Scotland anyway.

Over the last century, while Britain has struggled to create a modern, post-colonial society, the tiny country of Finland has done rather better.

This Nordic nation of 5.5 million folk became independent 100 years ago this week, after Lenin allowed the autonomous region to choose its own fate. Like Ireland, the Finns shook off foreign rule only to sink straight into civil war, which means the immediate aftermath of independence remains a bitter memory for some families.

The Finns really came to world attention in 1939, when almost half the entire population volunteered to tackle the Red Army and retain Finnish land bordering Russia in Karelia. The Finns used their familiarity with the forests to stop an army more than three times their size. Sniper-doctors carried vital medicine in their oxsters to stop it from freezing and one man – Simo Hayha – became the deadliest sniper in war history with 505 confirmed kills during this so-called Winter War. Some of his techniques included freezing the snow around his position so it wouldn’t fly about when he fired, and holding snow in his mouth when firing so there would be no fumes from his breath. Finns endured temperatures of minus 40 in underground forest dug-outs – and despite being Russia’s number one target, Hayha survived the war and lived to the grand old age of 96. The Finnish word “sisu” (stoically hardy) became known internationally as a result of the Finns’ Karelia campaign and Winston Churchill spoke openly of his admiration, even though Britain did little to help.

So the Finns changed sides and allowed German troops to pass through Finland for Hitler’s attack on Leningrad. By the end of hostilities Finland remained independent, but was forced to cede territory and pay heavy war reparations to the Soviet Union. But in many ways, this was the making of modern Finland. Compensation to the Soviet Union was chiefly paid in machinery and ships, which helped lay the foundations for the heavy engineering industry that stabilised the Finnish economy. Indeed one particular contract to supply mobile telephony to the Russian Army helped local cable company Nokia become a world leader in mobile phones.

But over the last century Finland managed to combine a flair for design and a passion for technology with a belief in the importance of evidence-based policy and an equally passionate belief in the importance of child health and happiness. A recent OECD survey found Finland is the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than mothers.

The Economist recently rated it the third best country to be a working mother and the Global Gender Gap report rated Finland the second most equal country in the world – no surprise really, because it was also the second to give women the vote, and the first to give them full political rights.

But Finland’s success isn’t ancient history. Helsinki is the most remote European capital city with the least winter daylight – and yet it has produced Europe’s most satisfied residents. How do the Finns do it?

Well it could be great city design. It could be having the world’s best education system with the highest rate of public library use. It could be the creation of city beaches for Baltic midwinter dips. It could be because Helsinki council owns 66 per cent of the land and makes sure housing is affordable and high quality. It could be because district heating is supplied as part of the rent to almost everyone. And it could be because Finns are capable of taking big strategic decisions.

Twenty years ago Helsinki decided to move its enormous port out of town so that precious city-centre waterfront land could be used for family housing. In 2008 the move was finally finished and 20 kilometres of prime waterfront land were freed up for five waterfront development projects. Now planners have gone further – urbanising suburbs to cope with further population growth and offering residents brand new tram connections in exchange for denser housing with slightly higher blocks of flats.

In short, over the last two decades Helsinki has been undergoing the biggest construction boom and urban redesign in Finnish history with relatively little disruption, in part because Helsinki council can plan ahead (there is no formal opposition and all parties elected by STV have a share of power). Meanwhile the Finns’ terrible diet and health record has been partly remedied by a return to the tradition of collecting and freezing berries but also by the fact salad is free (by law) in every restaurant and canteen.

Most folk know there are more saunas than cars in Finland, but there are also more workers’ co-operatives – two of the biggest organise Finnish forester-farmers to supply wood pulp. Indeed, the fact that tens of thousands of Finns have long owned land explains their fondness for equality. As newspaper production took off around the world, everyone benefitted financially from increased demand for wood pulp – not just one laird.

Britain will make more headlines this week than Finland, but not in a good way. So here’s wishing Finland a happy 100th birthday. And here’s hoping, in the years that lie ahead, that Scotland chooses to emulate much more than the Finns’ fabulous baby box scheme.