Media attention is often focused on the very richest, the 1%, and their capacity to influence politics and shape society. But they are not the only ones who drive politics, the public conversation and much of the private sector. The focus of this book is on the larger group between the 1% and the 10%. These are the managers and professionals of our media, business, the third sector, political parties and academia and are just as influential.
However, many would not recognise themselves as high earners at all. In fact, earning around £60,000 a year in Britain places you in the top 10% of income earners. Maybe you’re surprised you fall into this category, or are not as far off as you thought.
Despite this group’s relative advantage and comfort, these high earners don’t always feel politically empowered. They worry about their income and are anxious about the future. Most of them are more likely to move down the income ladder than up it.
Drawing attention to this powerful section of society, this book explains why, even if you are relatively near the top, it is in your interest that inequality is reduced, and how you can make that happen.
“If capitalism isn’t working for the top ten percent, then it's not working at all. This brilliant book tells us why and what we need to do about it” Neal Lawson, Compass
“Anyone interested in tackling the grotesque levels of inequality in our society needs to understand what the top 10% think, what motivates them and what will convince them that change is necessary. This book goes beyond a mapping of the economic status and attitudes of this influential top 10% and provides a fascinating insight into the choices that confront them and the potential there is to recruit them for progressive change.” John McDonnell MP
“Fascinating and telling insights into the situations and views of the top 10%, an under-researched and in many ways invisible – yet politically significant – group.” Professor the Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett
“Justice needs to start with the top 1%. But real political and economic change will have to involve the top 10%, both as political actors and taxpayers. A must-read.” Thomas Piketty, Paris School of Economics and author of A Brief History of Equality
“A brilliant study in how understanding the fears, feelings and hopes of the best-off tenth of our societies helps explain why we hold so tightly to inequality.” Danny Dorling, University of Oxford
“A brilliant book that clearly sets out why it’s in all of our interests to care about inequality in society.” Richard Burgon MP
“Both refreshingly honest and extremely pertinent, this book is well researched yet entertaining. Whether you are part of the top 10% or not, read it to better understand political polarisation, Brexit and the structural crisis that increasing inequality has become.” Alice Krozer, El Colegio de México
“A must-read for anyone interested in how to build public support for progressive taxation and redistribution.” Daniel Edmiston, University of Leeds
“The top 10% matter because of their loud political voice. This electrifying book warns us they don’t feel rich on £60,000, ignorant that the great majority earn half as much. Everyone needs to know where they stand.” Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
Marcos González Hernando is Honorary Research Fellow at the UCL Social Research Institute, Postdoctoral Researcher at Universidad Diego Portales and Adjunct Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Conflict and Social Cohesion.
Gerry Mitchell is a freelance policy researcher, working most recently for the Think-tank for Action on Social Change (Dublin), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Stockholm and London) and the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (Brussels).
Introduction: Why bother with the well-off?
1. Not billionaires, but well-off?
2. On the ubiquity and invisibility of the upper-middle class
3. ‘Work is life, that’s it’
4. Don’t rock the boat: politics and the well-off
5. Business class tickets for a sinking ship
6. Jumping ship, but where to?
7. Barriers to being comfortably off
8. ‘When the facts change, I change my mind’
Conclusion: Accepted truths, social distance and discomfort