20th centuryQueen Victoria died in 1901 and her son Edward VII became king, inaugurating the Edwardian Era, which was characterised by great and ostentatious displays of wealth in contrast to the sombre Victorian Era. With the event of the 20th century, things such as motion pictures, automobiles, and aeroplanes were coming into use. The new century was characterised by a feeling of great optimism. The social reforms of the last century continued into the 20th with the Labour Party being formed in 1900. Edward died in 1910, to be succeeded by George V. The Edwardian Era barely lasted longer than its namesake, for it all came crashing down in the summer of 1914, just as Europe was at the zenith of its power in the world.
The era was prosperous but political crises were escalating out of control. Dangerfield (1935) identified the "strange death of liberal England" as the multiple crisis that hit simultaneously in 1910-1914 with serious social and political instability arising from the Irish crisis, labor unrest, the women's suffrage movements, and partisan and constitutional struggles in Parliament. At one point it even seemed the Army might refuse orders dealing with Northern Ireland. No solution appeared in sight when the unexpected outbreak of the Great War in 1914 put domestic issues on hold. After a rough start Britain under David Lloyd George successfully mobilised its manpower, industry, finances, Empire and diplomacy, in league with the French and Americans, to fight off the Germans and Turks.
Lloyd George said after victory that "the nation was now in a molten state", and his Housing Act 1919 would lead to affordable council housing which allowed people to move out of Victorian inner-city slums. The slums, though, remained for several more years, with trams being electrified long before many houses. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave women householders the vote, but it would not be until 1928 that equal suffrage was achieved. Labour did not achieve major success until the 1922 general election.