Sunday's opinion page pieces examined the feasibility of Scottish independence, who should be the targets in a Covid-19 care home deaths inquiry and calls for an outright ban on jail terms of under a year as a result of the pandemic.  Here is The Herald’s pick of those editorials.

The Sunday Times

Alex Massie's column said that the nationalists were on a road to nowhere despite increasing public support.

He said that a series of polls confirms that, hypothetically anyway, a majority of Scots would vote for independence yet but argues that at the same time, "there is no realistic road to that independence"

He wrote: "The movement is both surging and stalled; a kind of Schrödinger's nationalism."

He added: "For just as Brexit and 'inadvertently' Boris Johnson have made the political arguments for independence easier and more persuasive, so they have complicated the reality of that independence. It all works very well in theory, but in practice it is all rather different."

There was still little evidence that the SNP was actually ready for a new independence campaign, he argued, with none of the "awkward questions" answered, including options on currency.

But he indicates a unionist stance saying: "If, as a strict matter of trade and economics, Brexit is a stupid idea, then independence must be an even worse one. Once you assume that making trade harder with your nearest, biggest customer has a cost then, as a matter of cold logic, independence is a bigger setback than even Brexit."

And he concludes: "Even if, as currently seems probable, the next parliament were to have another pro-independence majority, Boris Johnson is not going to agree to a referendum next year. There is still just enough juice in 'what part of once in a generation do you fail to understand?' to allow him to get away with that. For the time being, anyway. But just as unionism needs to rethink just about everything, so it is also clear that the nationalists must do so, too."

The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservative Party in the Scottish Parliament said that care home staff, already pushed to their limit as a second wave of coronavirus spreads across the country, are being put into "real emotional distress" by police investigations into the first outbreak of deaths.

"We know many patients weren't tested before being put into residential care and some went on to develop coronavirus. We know some were tested, returned a positive result, and were transferred into care homes anyway. We know that, in some cases, those care homes went on to have fatal outbreaks," she points out.

"We also know Health Secretary Jeane Freeman issued guidance dissuading home operators from transferring residents who developed symptoms to hospitals. What we don't know is when ministers knew that patients with positive test results were being put into care homes without the homes knowing these people were infected or whether anyone in Government tried to stop this practice. The First Minister argues that she and her Government are too busy fighting Covid to answer questions about how and why almost 2,000 Scots have died in our care home sector.

"Yet we have frontline care staff being dragged from their duties to be quizzed about outbreaks. These questions are hampering efforts to deal with the second wave and do not focus on how the outbreaks even occurred.

"Something is rotten here."

She said Sandra O’Neill, whose mother was one of nine residents who died after testing positive for Covid at the Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, "summed it up bes"t when said her mother’s carers did a "brilliant job" but the system let them down. 

"That's where the real questions lie," she said.

The Scottish Sun On Sunday

It's leader argued that to user the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to allow potentially violent criminals to walk the streets, is a "slap in the face" to victims of crime the length and breadth of Scotland.

A leaked paper reveals national anti-reoffending body Community Justice Scotland has tabled the idea of an outright ban on jail terms of under a year.

The controversial ideas would also see nobody tried for less serious summary offences jailed.

"We have said previously that the principle of fewer short-term prison sentences and better rehabilitation is to be supported, with evidence showing it can cut reoffending," the commentary said.

"But restricting judges and sheriffs in this way would be a terrible idea.

"Many victims already feel let down by soft-touch elements of a judicial system, and would rightly be angry if the issue of overcrowded prisons was tackled by showing disproportionate leniency to offenders. But that's what could happen if the apparent bid to introduce an outright ban on jail terms of under a year isn't swiftly kicked into touch."

It concluded: "The courts must continue to act on a case by case basis."