Member of Nazi-Themed Metal Band Running for U.K. Parliament as Brexit Party Candidate
Graham Cushway, who is running for parliament in Brighton Kempton on the Brexit Party ticket, is coming under fire for his past role in the Nazi-themed metal band Stuka Squadron.
Cushway played bass in and co-founded the outfit, which performs from the perspective of a unit of vampiric Nazis that take their name from Sturzkampfflugzeug (“dive-bomber”), a type of plane flown by the Germans during World War II. While the band’s official line is that they do not embrace Nazi or far-right ideals but are simply telling an elaborate story from the perspective of Nazis, their embrace of problematic imagery and their lyrics display “a deeply inappropriate fetishization of the Third Reich” according to Hope Not Hate, a site that aims “to provide a positive antidote to the politics of hate.”
The band performs in Gestapo-style outfits that openly brandish Nazi symbols such as the SS Totenkopf insignia, which Cushway has been photographed wearing on his tie (below). The band’s official website boasts that they are “a band of vampire warriors who have fought through the ages on innumerable battlefields” and that “the name celebrates our most recent wartime incarnation, but our bloody bootprints echo through the pages of history.” The bio also boasts that their “greatest adversary” is Zabulon, the name of a biblical founder of an Israelite tribe.
Hope Not Hate singles out two particularly problematic lyrical passages on the band’s album Tales of the Ost. From the title track: “Flying high above them all, the saviours of the Reich, the Stuka Squadron vampires head into the fight […] An Iron Cross on every chest, the Squadron dwindled fast.” And from the track “One Eyed God King:” “Hear my words that I implant, of blood crusade and racial war, the heathens you invented, the wolves inside the door, you rinse in blood the party’s name, fly your banners high”.
Stuka Squadron issued a lengthy statement on Facebook on November 1 in which they attempted to explain away their over-the-top use of Nazi imagery as an “art house” and comedic act and stated that “the band is not intended to convey any political message.” The statement claims their costumes were inspired by bands such as Slayer, Motorhead and The Fields of Nephilim. The band goes on to say that their “look is NOT intended to portray the SS or any other specific military unit from any era” despite the biography on their very own website, and completely oblivious to the reasons folks might be upset over costumes that call to mind the murder of millions of people despite their allegedly comedic intentions.
According to Huffington Post, a Brexit Party spokesman took issue with the criticisms directed in Cushway’s direction for his association with Stuka Squadron: “He’s fought in two wars and he’s quite a successful metal guitarist. To suggest that he is in any way associated with that which people are trying to associate him with is just silly.” When asked about the band’s aesthetic, the spokesman gave a response we’ve heard all too often when metal and far-right politics mix: “You have to draw a distinction between art and life. The Brexit Party is happy to stand behind Dr. Cushway and his candidature – though maybe not his taste in music.”
In a report in The New European, Cushway’s opponent, Lloyd Russell-Moyle of the Labour Party, said, “It is pretty abhorrent to appear in a Luftwaffe heavy metal tribute band and to dress up as a Nazi. Graham says to me that it was a parody but I don’t find it funny and I don’t think voters will either. Yet again the Brexit Party selects someone with a dodgy past and he now should be considering his position.”
Cushway rebutted Russell-Moyle’s statement in kind, saying “I am disappointed that Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP has decided to take this position. As he is entirely aware, the band was entirely satirical in nature. I can only conclude that his attempt to twist what was essentially comedic performance art into some sort of serious message reflects his desperation at being faced by a candidate genuinely representing the millions of Leave voters betrayed by the Labour Party and by Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP himself.”