Labour and Ukip in spat over sexism
Labour and Ukip's most senior female figures engaged in a spat over their parties' approach to women's rights - with Harriet Harman being branded a "harpie" for suggesting Ukip was "Neanderthal".
The deputy Labour leader issued a catalogue of evidence she said showed the eurosceptic party was "bad for women" but faced a rapid riposte from Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans.
Ms Harman said 90% of Ukip general election candidates and 81% of its councillors were male, prominent figures were guilty of questioning women's role in the workplace, it was allied with misogynistic politicians in Brussels and wanted to cut public services which are used more by women than men.
She also pointed to interviews given in the past by Ukip Nigel Farage in which he said it was "an extraordinarily bizarre idea" to have female soldiers serving alongside men on the frontline and that attending lap dance clubs was "normal behaviour".
"It's clear from their policies and what they say, and what they do that Ukip is bad for women.
"It's not just the Neanderthal sexist comments, and their overwhelmingly male team of candidates. Their policies show no recognition that half the people in this country are women and that women expect, and are entitled, to be treated on equal terms to men."
But Mrs Evans said it was "utter rubbish" to brand Ukip sexist and said women in the party held "gritty roles ... not the usual fluffy 'women's issues' roles that other parties have so patronisingly handed out".
"I don't believe she's ever met Nigel Farage, but if she had, and if she'd worked with him, as I do, she'd find he's extremely knowledgeable, great company, has a wonderful sense of humour and is an all-round decent chap," she said of Ms Harman.
"He no more believes women are worth less than I do. His supposed 'anti-women' comments have been spun out of all proportion.
"If Ukip was sexist, I wouldn't be deputy chairman and handed the huge responsibility of delivering the general election manifesto.
"We wouldn't have seven female MEPs, all of them selected to stand by our members. And we certainly wouldn't have more frontbench spokeswomen than any other national party.
"Like other women in UKIP, I can be confident I'm doing the job I'm doing because I was chosen to do it on merit, not because of ridiculous and demeaning quotas that mean I tick the right equality box. That's what Labour's policies have reduced women to and it infuriates me.
"They've put women out of work; forced down wages for women because of mass uncontrolled migration, they've raised our taxes, helped make childcare the most expensive in the world, and not properly addressed the issue of women suffering appalling cultural crimes like female genital mutilation."