For years, Alex Salmond told us an independent Scotland would, effortlessly and undoubtedly, join the arc of prosperity: Ireland, Iceland and Norway.

But you can't have an arc with only one member; though, in terms of accuracy, one out of three isn't a bad score for the First Minister.

Then earlier this year we were told by a Nationalist Minister an independent Scotland would be like Bhutan. So it comes as no surprise that Iain AD Mann is now reaching to the other side of the globe to find comparators; unfortunately, New Zealand isn't a good one (Letters, November 21).

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New Zealand has a population a little smaller in size than Scotland, but over three times the land mass. It has a much more diverse climate than Scotland, which helps explain why agriculture is such a large part of its economy. Although it has no significant oil, it does have coal, natural gas and minerals. Having big mountains and abundant rain, it harnesses cheap hydro-electricity in much greater quantities than Scotland ever could.

Mr Mann's comment about international airports is inaccurate. According to Wikipedia, New Zealand does indeed have seven international airports, but most of those serve only Australia, and on an irregular basis. Mr Mann claims Scotland "has just two" international airports, plus Prestwick. In fact Aberdeen has frequent scheduled flights to Norway, and international charter flights, too. And most of Scotland's population is concentrated in the Central Belt, within reach of Glasgow or Edinburgh airports, so the situation is very different from New Zealand.

New Zealand has a significantly lower Gross Domestic Product than the UK. Using the average of World Bank and International Monetary Fund figures, New Zealand's GDP per capita is 12% below the UK's. Using Purchasing Power Parity figures, the gap grows to 20%. New Zealand is an expensive country to live in.

So far, the Nationalist arguments on the economy have been nothing but fantasy and wishful thinking. It's time they got real and engaged in honest debate.

Doug Maughan,

52 Menteith View, Dunblane.

Senna the Soothsayer often warned Lurcio: "Woe, woe and thrice woe!" I feel Scotland is in the same position as poor old Lurcio (aka Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii) because of this terrible curse of North Sea oil.

I cannot get my head around contradictions in the argument that says, because you have a particular income stream it means you have to hand the proceeds over to your next-door neighbour and be humbly grateful for the occasional handout.

Ruth Marr is right to recall all those dire warnings about the imminence of oil running out, making Scotland an economic basket case once more (Letters, November 21).

Released Government papers prove the success of the SNP in the 1970s impelled the Labour Government to lie about oil reserves, so why on earth should we believe Westminster now?

The truth is we have at least 40 years of oil left; therefore we have 40 years to realign the Scottish economy to take account of it and huge strides are being taken with renewables, not to mention other assets such as whisky and tourism.

The 40-year prediction is based on the fact that the oil industry never makes forecasts more than four decades ahead and it is not impossible that in 2052 it will tell us there is at least another 40 years' worth left. Sadly, I won't be around to say: "I telt ye!"

David C Purdie,

12 Mayburn Vale, Loanhead, Midlothian.

Peter Russell uses caricature to suggest the political perspectives which prevail in Scotland and England are similar (Letters, November 21).

However, historical statistics prove otherwise. From 1885 until 1999 Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, was under a Tory Government 20 times.

Had it been independent it would have voted the Tories in only twice: in 1900 and in 1955.

Having had the Tories repeatedly foisted on Scotland has distorted our political culture.

Now at last our political centre of gravity is moving back to its natural place with respect to devolved matters such as health and education.

Only control of the remaining reserved matters will also allow us to get rid of Trident and disengage from imperialistic wars.

Mary McCabe,

25 Circus Drive,