EQUALITY groups and politicians from all parties have joined together to criticise the Sun’s decision to Photoshop Nicola Sturgeon’s head on to the body of Miley Cyrus to create an image described as “disgraceful”, “clear misogyny”, and “utterly unacceptable”.

The article, which was not printed in the Scottish edition of The Sun, is ostensibly seen as an attack on the SNP.

As well as the controversial image depicting the First Minister writhing on a wrecking ball in underwear, the paper used the wrong photo to illustrate a passage about SNP candidate and National columnist Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

Scottish Government minister Humza Yousaf tweeted: “Sun uses random pic of Asian woman when writing about @TasminaSheikh – if you’re going to troll get right brown person.”

Ahmed-Sheikh said: “We need to do all we can to encourage more women to get involved in politics – and part of that is about making sure they have no reason to fear personal abuse. It is hard enough raising your head above the parapet into politics as a woman, but as an Asian woman it’s even more of a challenge. If elected, I will be the first Scottish black and minority ethnic woman at Westminster. It is quite incredible that this is the case in 2015.”

Emma Ritch, from Engender, Scotland’s feminist organisation, said that the spread was indicative of a wider problem in politics and the media: “The Sun’s disgraceful mash-up of Nicola Sturgeon and Miley Cyrus is one of a multitude of examples of misogynist coverage of women in politics. Female party leaders in the Scottish Parliament are the highest-profile targets for relentlessly sexist background chatter about women politicians’ appearance, clothes, ambition, parenting status and personal relationships.

“If the coverage of Westminster and Holyrood is intending to portray politics as an antediluvian boys’ club then it is succeeding. This is unfair to both the female councillors and parliamentarians who ably represent their constituencies, and the competent women who would otherwise take part in political life.”

The First Minister’s political opponents were quick to attack The Sun’s decision to use the picture.

Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in the Scottish Parliament, tweeted: “Seriously? In 2015? This is where we are with women in politics? #EverydaySexism”

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Kezia Dugdale tweeted: “Just seen the Sun coverage of @NicolaSturgeon – just like every other attack based on her gender, it’s utterly unacceptable.”

Kezia Kinder, of Women For Independence, said: “The Sun’s coverage of Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday was clear misogyny and yet further evidence of the sexism all around us. No woman – regardless of her party – should be subject to the kind of sexism demonstrated by The Sun and we challenge all other media to sign up to our Send Off Sexism initiative and ensure their coverage of the General Election is sexism-free.”

The substance of the article was the latest in the ongoing battle to have Ed Miliband and Labour make a commitment to ruling out any future coalition with the SNP.

The issue dominated Prime Minister’s Questions. During a tense exchange during which both Cameron and Miliband accused each other of being chicken, the Prime Minister said the Labour Party had stopped trying to win outright.

Cameron said: “They are not trying to win. They are just trying to crawl through the gates of Downing Street on the coat tails of the SNP.

“So what he has got to do is prove that he is not a chicken and rule that out”.

Miliband, again, refused to do so and said that it was the Prime Minister who was chickening out by refusing to take part in the televised debates.

One Labour MP, speakingoff the record, confidently told the BBC that Miliband would rule out a coalition with the SNP.

“We will rule it out eventually” the MP said. “They hate us and we hate them.”