During Gordon Brown’s time at the Treasury, the number of people paying the higher rate almost doubled - principally because of fiscal drag, Brown didn’t link the threshold to earnings. This means there are a whole slew of people paying higher rate tax who are comfortably off but are not members of the super rich by a long stretch.
If George Osborne was, in his pre-election Budget, able to announce that no one who earns under £50,000 a year would pay the higher rate then he would be sending an important signal about aspiration. He would also pose a political problem for Ed Miliband, would he oppose or support? To oppose, would be to put himself — like Neil Kinnock and John Smith in 1992 — not just against those who would benefit from the change but against all who hope they might one day.