Britain in the Twenties

Britain in the Twenties

General Overview

  • Post World War I Britain was marked by economic struggle and social change.
  • Unemployment was high due to demobilisation (soldiers returning from war) and a lack of trade.
  • The General Strike of 1926 was a significant event, where millions of workers protested against wage reductions and worsening conditions.


  • Continued economic stagnation led to high unemployment, especially in staple industries such as coal, steel, and textiles.
  • Economic disparity grew between the North (largely industrial and struggling) and the prosperous South.


  • The Representation of the People Act (1928) gave voting rights to all women above 21, equalising the voting age with men.
  • The Labour Party, led by Ramsay MacDonald, emerged as a major political force throughout the 1920s.

Cultural Changes

  • Women’s role in society started changing with increased workforce participation and changes in fashion and lifestyle, marked by the ‘Flapper’ phenomenon.
  • Birth of mass media, with the BBC’s radio broadcast starting from 1922.

International Relations

  • The Treaty of Versailles (1919) and the League of Nations hugely impacted Britain’s foreign relations.
  • The concept of “appeasement” - avoiding conflict through negotiation - started to form in reaction to the aggressive policies of expansionist foreign powers.

The General Strike of 1926

  • Triggered by problems within the coal industry, with miners demanding better pay and work conditions.
  • Effectively brought the country to a standstill, impacting crucial services such as transport, coal production, and newspapers.
  • Government reaction to the strike was largely combative, marking a significant moment in the history of the British labour movement.