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Arthur James Balfour became leader of the Conservative Party in July 1902. He seemed in every way qualified for the position. He was a patrician of exquisite sensibility and a politician of genuine skill. As a statesman he had already achieved much for his country. Nevertheless, his course as party leader cannot be looked upon as a success. Despite his comfortable opinion of himself and his capacities Balfour was not without his limitations in the post. Moreover, during the course of his leadership from 1902 to 1911 it was his professional misfortune to be confronted by challenges of a kind that might have threatened or destroyed the unity of any party however adroitly it was led, directed or managed.
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