Sunday's opinion page pieces examined whether John Swinney should have quit, whether the Scottish Government should get involved in the Belarus crisis and raised concerns over the veracity of data surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sunday Times

Alex Massie said education secretary John Swinney should have resigned over the coronavirus exams regrading fiasco, arguing his failure to walk away marked the end of accountability.

"Honour is not a word often associated with our politics but, even by our grubby contemporary standards, this has been an especially dishonourable, and an exceptionally low, week for Scottish politics. It has also, I am afraid, been a grimly revealing one.

"For, if our politics were less dishonourable, John Swinney would have resigned from his post as the Scottish government's education secretary. His decision not to do so, and the Scottish parliament's willingness to maintain its confidence in an education secretary who has presided over the greatest policy fiasco in the history of the Holyrood assembly, dishonours both Swinney and the parliament in which he sits.

"Nothing about the SQA school results shambles was an accident. All of it was signed off by and, indeed, directed by Scottish government ministers. The downgrading of thousands of grades was not some unfortunate aberration or inexplicable mistake. It was policy. The SQA did this because they had been told to do so. Penalising pupils on account of their postcodes and their predecessors' shortcomings was the point.

"So Swinney's disinclination to take responsibility for this rather dents his reputation, hitherto deserved I should say, —for decency. It also marks the death of political accountability in this country. For if this was not, as a matter of honour, a resigning issue, what would be?

Scotland on Sunday

It's leader called for the First Minister to stay out of the Belarus crisis after EU foreign affairs ministers agreed to draw up a list of targets in a new round of sanctions in response to strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s post-election crackdown.

It said that it was difficult to see how to influence change without making things worse for citizens.

"A call for Nicola Sturgeon to intervene in the scandal of the Belarusian elections may be understandable but we fear this may be a situation requiring more than the involvement of Scotland's First Minister," said the paper.

A week of protests followed president Alexandr Lukashenko's declaration of victory. He claimed he won 80 per cent of the vote to give him a sixth term in office. Lukashenko's response to criticism led to some 7,000 people being arrested by police whose response to demonstrations has been to fire rubber bullets and launch flash grenades.

"SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford's call for a tougher response from the UK is to be welcomed but that modern cliché - 'it's complicated' - certainly applies in this case. Yes, the actions of Lukashenko demand condemnation but this is a man who thinks nothing of unleashing terrible violence on those protesting his return to office."

Mail On Sunday.

Peter Hitchens turned on the government and its bungles over coronavirus data saying that "to call these people incompetent would be to pay them an over-generous compliment".

He accused the UK govermment of producing figures on the coronavirus crisis that has been "fraudulent and wrong".

"We will never know how many people were listed as Covid deaths in this country, whose true cause of death was something else," he wrote.

"The rules on classifying them were shockingly lax, and almost no post-mortems were held, so we can never check. But the London Government was last week forced to admit that for some time its official death figures have been a wild overstatement of the facts.

"Somehow this colossal event was pushed on to inside pages and way down BBC bulletins, but let me tell you the UK's total death toll has been revised down from 46,706 to 41,329, a fall of 5,377. That, as you might have noticed, is an error of more than ten per cent, a huge admission.

"The scale of this error is so great that the mind turns away from it. Add to it the slow but relentless destruction of the economy and the catastrophe in the schools, and you have even more to weep over.

"Bit by bit, people are finding out what a recession actually means in terms of lost jobs, busted businesses and ravaged pensions. This is all now inevitable, and only weeks away. Meanwhile, thousands of teenagers have been robbed of an essential part of their education, which they can never get back.

"Thanks to bungles piled on top of folly, they now face stupid injustice, broken hopes and the cold face of bureaucracy. Those responsible for this have a terrible load on their consciences."

The Independent

It's leader said the Chancellor must help create jobs for the future in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

"Tens of thousands of tenants could lose their homes when the ban on evictions ends in seven days’ time, aswe report today. This hardship will probably be one of the early economic effects of the shockwave caused by the virus and the measures to contain it," said the paper.

"Last week’s jobs figures, for example, showed that although the number of hours people spent working had fallen by a fifth, unemployment had hardly increased yet.

"Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, was right to preserve jobs, and the government was right to impose a temporary ban on evictions, but the priority now is to create the jobs of the future rather than to preserve the jobs of the past."