Demonstrators protest outside Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner this evening. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ed Miliband's speech to Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner: full text

"I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland," says the Labour leader. 

“We meet here after a tough week for our party in Scotland and after an extraordinary year when Scotland has gone through a profound debate about its future.

“We meet here proud that in September we won the battle to keep our country together.

“And we meet here above all determined to fight to show the Scottish people that Labour can be the change they want to see.

“We heard in the referendum about what the people of Scotland want. There is a deep desire for economic and political change.

“The referendum rejected separation. However much the SNP may try and rewrite the result, the Scottish people voted for us to stay together.

“It means democratic change with more powers for a stronger Scottish Parliament.

“That’s why we are entering the Smith Commission in good faith, working to the timetable that Gordon Brown set down during the referendum campaign.

“We will deliver a Parliament with more control over tax, jobs and welfare.

“We will deliver on a new Scotland Act in our first Queen’s Speech.

“And we will do what the SNP has not done and will never do: deliver an agenda that meets the needs of working people in Scotland.

“We’ll reintroduce a 50p tax rate for people earning over £150,000.

“We’ll tax bankers’ bonuses to pay for guaranteed jobs for our young people.

“We’ll end exploitative zero hours contracts.

“We’ll freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and tackle the rip off energy markets.

“And we’ll increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour.

“A pay rise for 100,000 Scots.

“We are just over six months from the general election.

“I look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with whoever the party in Scotland elects as leader to win that election.

“Over its history we have seen the Scottish Labour Party fight for the values our movement holds dear.

“We face a tough fight but no tougher than the fights we have faced in the past.

“The fight for workers’ rights 100 years ago which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight for an NHS which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight to get rid of the Tories in 1997 and establish a Scottish Parliament which Scottish Labour led and won.

“And the fight to keep our country together which Scottish Labour led and won.

“In the next six months I know the Scottish Labour Party will fight every hour and every day to deliver the changes the working people of Scotland need to improve their lives.

“And I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland.

“Together let's win this fight to change Scotland and change Britain.”
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The murder of fearless journalist Pavel Sheremet must be solved - but Ukraine needs more

Sheremet was blown up as he drove to host a morning radio programme

On 20th of July Kiev was shaken by the news of the assassination of the respected Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet. Outside the ex-Soviet republics he was hardly known. Yet the murder is one that the West should reflect on, as it could do much to aggravate the Ukrainian-Russian conflict. 

Sheremet was one of the most significant and high profile investigative journalists of his generation. His career as an archetypal  examiner of the post-Soviet regimes in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia bought him fame and notoriety in the region. From 1997 onwards Sheremet became a name for fearless and non-partisan interrogation, both in print and as also as TV presenter. He paid the price early on when he was incarcerated by the Belarus government, then stripped of his Belarusian nationality and deported. Such is the way of things in the region.

Taking up residence in Kiev, Sheremet became immersed in interrogating the political life of Ukraine. He wrote for the Ukrayinska Pravda publication and also helped to develop a journalism school. Under these auspices he was a participant of a congress, "The dialogue between Ukraine and Russia", in April 2014. He reported on beginnings of the Euromaidan uprising. He warned of the rise of the concept  of "Novorossia" and suggested that Ukraine needed to reset its current status and stand up to Russian pressure. After the Russian occupation of Crimea his blame for the Ukrainian government was ferocious. He alleged that that they "left their soldiers face to face the [Russian] aggressor and had given up the Crimean peninsula with no attempt to defend it." These, he said "are going to be the most disgraceful pages of Ukrainian history."

Sheremet was blown up at 7.45am on 20 July as he drove to host a morning radio programme.

Ukraine is a dangerous place for journalists. Fifty of them have been murdered since Ukraine achieved independence. However, this murder is different from the others. Firstly, both the Ukrainian President and the Interior minister immediately sought assistance from FBI and EU investigators. For once it seems that the Ukrainian government is serious about solving this crime. Secondly, this IED type assassination had all the trappings of a professional operation. To blow a car up in rush hour Kiev needs a surveillance team and sophisticated explosive expertise. 

Where to lay the blame? Pavel Sheremet had plenty of enemies, including those in power in Belarus, Russia and the militias in Ukraine (his last blog warned of a possible coup by the militias). But Ukraine needs assistance beyond investigators from the FBI and the EU. It needs more financial help to support credible investigative journalism.   

The murder of Pavel Sheremet was an attack on the already fragile Ukrainian civil society, a country on the doorstep of the EU. The fear is that the latest murder might well be the beginning of worse to come.

Mohammad Zahoor is the publisher of Ukrainian newspaper The Kyiv Post.