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Additional resources for A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88
Yet Campbell-Bannerman's administration had achieved a success of a different kind. It had given experience and office to men who were to prove themselves in later years. Indeed, the administrative success of many of the individual Ministers in the Campbell-Bannerman ministry was remarkable. This was particularly true of Haldane, the Secretary of State for War. He created not only the General Staff, but by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907 revised the whole organisation of the Army.
This, in fact, was one element which caused Harcourt to resign in 1899. The party, divided and in opposition, was once again faced with the necessity to select a leader of the Liberal Party within the House of Commons. I t was in this situation that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman became leader of the party. With Campbell-Bannerman as leader, the Liberal Party was to enter the new century. 3 The Liberals in Opposition: 1900-1906 Campbell-Bannerman became leader of the Liberal Party in the Commons in February 1899.
The Conservatives secured 402 seats to the 186 of the Liberals. The Liberals had thus improved their position very marginally compared with 1895, although their representation was less than when Parliament had been dissolved. The Liberals lost ground in the English counties and in Scotland, but improved their position in Wales, where opposition to the war in South Africa was strongest. Scotland and the large cities showed most enthusiasm for the war. The result was of little comfort for Campbell-Bannerman, who now found himself in the unenviable position of an opposition leader who had led his party to a crushing electoral defeat, and whose most able colleagues openly followed the lead of a rival statesman.