Born Ernest Henry Brown in Bingley in 1892, he was an early organiser against the First World War and was imprisoned in 1915. He was national secretary for conscientious objectors from 1916-8 and let a strike of COs in Dartmore.
A foundation member of the Party, he was an early full time organiser in north-east England in the early 1920s, and was married to the more famous Isabel Brown. He represented the British Party at the Executive Committee of the Communist International in 1924 and was recalled to Britain when the twelve leaders of the Party were arrested in 1925. He was also a member of the 1927-29 EC.
He was subject to long term surveillance by MI5 and was a member of the Executive of the Britain Soviet Friendship Society, for which he worked for a period. It seems he had begun working for the Party’s International Department at some point and was certainly dealing with policy issues and liaison on Malaya in the 1950s.
Even as late as 1960, the year he died, his security files noted that he was writing for the bulletin produced by what was described as “Sam Chinque’s news agency”, which disseminated news from China in Britain. (see separate entry for Chinque.) Whilst working with Chinque, in fact, Brown was employed at this point additiinally by the New China News Agency, a People’s’ Republic body as well as Chinque’s body.
Brown also appears to have had responsibility for liaison with foreign Communist Party’s via an Asia Committee, a subgroup of the International Committee.
He and Isabel were typing the NCNA Bulletin directly on to a teleprinter, a piece of new technology that connected them to correspondents in 26 countries. Both Prague and Peking received copies of material and Ernie managed a group of 19 comrades working in this sphere. One of the more recent nations the group had been working on had been Indonesia.
Ernie and Isabel had been in holiday in Morecombe when he died of a heart attack.