The Sketch: The big Budget surprise – Ed displays his true talent as a proper bully

Miliband got up and gave a blistering performance, cutting his finest figure yet as the Opposition leader

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The Independent Online

So, everything's going to be all right. Deficit coming down, no double dip, they're taking from the rich to give to the poor.

Oh no, everything has failed, unemployment's up, there's no growth and they're taking from the poor to give the rich.

One or the other will do, depending on your inclination in these things. Obviously, both sides bayed "Shame! Shame!" at each other whenever they could.

One thing we saw for certain: the Opposition leader got up off his knees and gave a blistering performance, cutting his finest figure yet. The measure of its success was that Ed Balls and his wife produced thin, vinegary smiles at the most riotous moments.

Ed Miliband had Helen Goodman almost throwing up with excitement behind him. Chris Bryant tried to clap the horse joke until the chair chastised him. But on the faces of Ed and Yvette was written one of the old truths of politics: the success of your friend is infinitely worse than the triumph of your enemy.

Osborne had popped in a couple of jokes, very public spirited of him. The entertainment industry was to be encouraged "to make sure Wallace and Grommit stay where they are." It caused a roar on one side and silence on the other. Tories never tire of that joke.

But Miliband gave as good as he got, and with a little extra just for Cameron. There were 14,000 people earning over a million a year and their tax cut would be worth £40,000 a year. (That's when Helen Goodman looked like she was trying to throw up a small pig.) "It's the Government's very own bankers' bonus," he laughed. Then the familiar line about the poor are made to work harder by having their income reduced while the rich are made to work harder by having their income increased.

And then his coup de theatre on the new 45p top rate – "How many of the Conservative Party will benefit from the tax cuts? Come on, hands up, how many?"

Everyone enjoys that game, except possibly Tory MPs.

Miliband's gaze turned to the Prime Minister and here he grew six inches and practically grew a beard. Would he, the PM, benefit from the new rate? Go on, yes or no? A nod of the head would do, a nod or a shake, there's plenty of time. Yes? No?

It is of course what Cameron brutally does to Miliband at PMQs. But in this reversal there was a certain lightness of touch, of amusement even, that made it painful.

My professional assessment is that Ed Miliband has talent. He could be a proper bully if he put his mind to it.

Oo-er, I hope he doesn't starton me.