Saturday, 20 April 2024


Earnest Brown (1881-1962)

Earnest Brown (1881-1962). Was a British MP and leader of the Liberal National Party from 1940-1945. Although English he primarily represented the Edinburgh constituency seat of Leith for nearly 20 years. Like many other Liberal MPs he became disillusioned with the Party’s leadership over its refusal to consider import tariffs and became with (Sir) John Simon a founding member of the new Liberal National Party in 1931.

As a valued member of the National Coalition of the time (including Labour, Liberal and Conservative MPs) he held Ministerial rank continuously until losing his seat in the ‘Labour landslide’ in 1945. His most memorable position was Minister of Labour. He oversaw legislation which extended social security to nearly all agricultural workers and supported the right of Trade Unionists to actively recruit.

After John Simon was appointed to the Lords Earnest Brown took over leadership of the LN’s in 1940. He attempted to unite the two divided Liberal parties but talks foundered over continuing support for a National Coalition.

Sadly he was unable to breathe life into the party who suffered losses in the swing towards Labour whilst relying upon the mercy of their Conservative ‘partners’. Brown himself lost his seat in ‘War’ election in 1945 and dropped out of politics.

Although he did not have the status of Simon or the ‘vision’ of Henderson-Stewart he was a social reformer in a cabinet of conservatives (with a little and large C). He also believed that the LNs were the more legitimate heirs to the Liberal tradition (rather than the Independent Liberals) because they put individual liberty at the forefront of their beliefs.

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