To compile his memoirs, Frank used his daily diaries that he started writing in 1935 [see Reading and Writing]. This is how the reader gets an insight into the political landscape of the time and Frank’s own political views. His comments on politics are as if he has copied them straight from his dairies. Frank typically offers a brief comment on the political situation of the time but often does not comment on how this affects him and his community. Sometimes Frank does offer an opinion on an individual or a political development, but Frank does not go into much more detail apart from this.
In terms of politics of the country, Frank does not reveal at any point in his memoirs which party he voted for in General Elections, or which political party’s views he agrees with. In relation to the General Elections Frank typically discloses the result and does not offer his opinion regarding the result. However, there is one exception to this and that is the General Election of 1945. Frank writes that ‘July 1945 opened with election fever and was the main topic of conversation and there was much activity among the various canvassers, with the usual evening meetings’ (101). Furthermore, Frank reveals the shock most of the country felt by the results of this General Election, Frank writes that ‘the result was a great shock to most people, with a swing to Labour and a clear majority of 140 seats. Mr Atlee was the new Prime Minister’ (101). However, once again Frank does not disclose his opinion on the result and whether he was part of the population who was shocked by the result.
An aspect of politics that is clear is Frank’s opinions on prominent political figures. Frank had previously offered his opinions on Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill regarding their contribution to the war effort and how they led the country to victory [see War and Memory]. Frank also divulges his opinion on politicians from America. Frank refers to the death of President Roosevelt on the 13th April 1945. Frank writes that Roosevelt’s death was ‘a sad loss at this time to the whole free world. Together with other great statesmen at that time, he had given his life for what he considered was right and his leadership and great efforts had much to do with our present promise of victory and peace’ (98). Again, Frank offers his opinion on political figures in death as he writes that ‘on the 14th April , I record the sudden passing of a hard working and respected politician, Mr Ernest Bevan’ (140). Frank does discuss the assassination of President Kennedy, he writes that ‘on the 22nd November , the wireless gave the news of the assassination of President Kennedy, in Dallas, at the early age of 46 years. The papers on the following day were full of this tragic occurrence’ (316). The last reference in Frank’s memoir of a death of a political figure is that of Winston Churchill, on 24th January 1965, a man who Frank clearly respected and held in high regard. Frank refers to his passing as a loss of ‘a wonderful life’ (327). Often Frank’s opinions on political figures are expressed following their deaths. Furthermore, Frank only refers to those he respects and have had a positive impact on their respective countries.
An aspect of British culture that Frank consistently holds in high regard despite the changes in the political landscape is the Royal Family. Throughout Frank’s memoir it is clear that he has a lot of respect for the Royal Family and is a firm supporter of the Royal Family despite some of the controversies that occurred during Frank’s adult life. Frank mentions the controversial abdication of King Edward and how it was a shock to many as he was a very popular monarch. Frank writes that ‘in December of [the] year 1936 the papers were full of King Edward’s abdication, necessitating to his brother, the Duke of York taking his place and becoming King George VI’ (51). Frank’s comments on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding day, on November 20th, 1947, shows that most of the country held the Royal Family in high regard in a similar manner to Frank. Although, Frank was working on the day of the wedding, he notes that ‘from early morning, large numbers were making for London. Fortunately, the weather was fine although dull and very mild’ (115). Another major event that Frank mentions is the sudden death of King George VI on the 6th February 1952. Frank writes that ‘this news came as a great disappointment and shock to most people as it was hoped he had made a good recovery from his surgery a few months ago’ (149).
Ultimately, politics is not a major aspect of Frank’s memoirs. He does not disclose whether he was part of any political organisations and it appears that he did not hold strong political views. Frank just had a high level of respect for political figures who he felt made a positive impact on the lives of others.
‘Frank Prevett’ in John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (eds) The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 1790-1945, 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989): 2:638.
Prevett, Frank. ‘Memoirs of a Railwayman’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection
Daily Herald 1945 – Spartacus Educational
Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding Day – BBC