50% earn less than this figure and 50% earn more. The importance of using this type of average for earnings is explained here.
There are 31.7m tax payers (pdf) and of these - 3.8m, earn over £40,835 and pay the higher rate of tax. This means that the top 12% of earners now pay some of their earnings at the higher rate of 40%, compared to around 8% of the top earners who did so in 1997.
These top 12% of earners are referred to by the Daily Mail/Standard/Times/Torygraph/ Express/ (even by the Sun) as 'middle income earners' and as explained above, the press generally use the 'mean' average to try and justify this level of earning as 'middle'. The absurdity of using mean averages for earnings is best exemplified by using the example of Bill Gates moving to the UK - if he did this, the 'average' earner as measured by the mean average would magically overnight become a few thousand pounds 'richer' whereas the median earnings would increase by only a few pence as it would move to the next highest earner in the middle. No wonder the mean is preferred by the wealthy and their press owning friends. Out of control wages at the top end distort the figure. As inequality is already at absurd levels, the mean average becomes effectively meaningless as a guide to what people actually earn.
So given that the Right are generally only speaking to these 12% when they talk of their prime objectives of inheritance tax and income tax cuts, how do they win power?
The Tories get into power using three main tools; their wealthy control of the media and a shameless disregard for the truth, reliance on the fact that lower earners are less likely to vote, and a distorted electoral system that gives them power despite the majority consistently voting against them. With Thatcher and Major, they achieved power with never more than 33% of the electorate support, new Labour has managed to get massive majorities on less than 22% support and the next Tory government is unlikely to get more than 25% support, (at most), when it wins power in 2010. This system of first-past-the-post suits the Tories and their right-wing agenda just fine.
One of the greatest right-wing lies put out about our current electoral system is that it allows voters to 'throw governments out of power'. In fact the opposite is true, unpopular governments can survive until there is perhaps over 70% that oppose them AND are willing to vote for ANYBODY but them. This is why we keep ending up with unpopular governments with unwarranted power in relation to the support they have.
It has been deeply disappointing that Labour have reneged on their promise to give us a referendum on electoral reform - now, in the face of certain defeat it would be very difficult to convince people reform would be anything but desperation to avoid defeat.
Yet...in my dreams I never imagined we would get the wonderful smoking ban, civil partnerships, doubled spending on the NHS and education, free public transport for pensioners and children, a minimum wage increasing faster than the average wage and PR elected devolution for Scotland, Wales, London and the European Parliament etc etc. Labour could have done so much more but all these things are hated by Tory MPs and surely will be under threat by a Tory government. Perhaps the ultimate prize of PR for Westminster was just a step too far this time.
The problem is that the Tories are not going to play fair. Not content with having a massive press bias, the Tories will extend this bias to TV and radio (like in the states where Fox TV plumbs new depths of 'uninformation' at the command of Murdoch).
For a party who makes much of the mythical 'constituency link' when defending the present system, they still think over-riding geographical, administrative and community boundaries is ok in the drive to create more Tory MPs. The Tories will scrap these essential boundary commission rules (and worse) to keep themselves in power. This will make a mockery of our so called democracy, as boundary changes will affect results far more than the voters ever will.
So the majority of voters, who get services they never could afford if not paid for by taxation, continue to end up with Tory governments who cut these services and help the richest 12% of earners in society. One day I believe this cycle of electoral decline and manipulation will end. Under Gordon Brown, all seems lost - Labour MPs denied their members and chose this idiot, but it is we the people who will suffer. It is time to take back the Labour party from these prats - there will only be one party on the left that can give us electoral reform and redistribution. For good or bad, Labour is that party!