The Brexit Party candidate in Brighton Kemptown, Dr Graham Cushway, is reportedly the bassist in a heavy-metal band, Stuka Squadron, whose members dress like Luftwaffe pilots and evoke other Nazi-era symbolism.
Dr Cushway, who holds a PhD in Maritime History, is a former UKIP candidate and ex-soldier. He reportedly goes by the alias “Graham Lord Pyre” in the band, which he co-founded, and has worn the SS Totenkopf insignia on his tie while performing.
The SS, the abbreviation of Schutzstaffel, was a major paramilitary organisation under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II.
In a lengthy statement posted on their Facebook page, the band wrote: “Stuka Squadron is — and always was — solely AN ACT. It is an art-house [sic] Heavy Metal band intended from the start to blend elements of musical theatre with traditional Heavy Metal performance. No more, no less. It was intended to be shocking and un-PC at the outset, although this desire waned as it increased in popularity.
“The band is not intended to convey any political message. There is no political agenda and the band members have always represented a cross-section of political opinion. No band member has ever been affiliated to any extreme right or left wing movement, has or had any interest in or sympathy for extreme politics.”
Regarding the use of Nazi-era symbolism, they added: “The band’s look is NOT intended to portray the SS or any other specific military unit from any era. It is the uniform of a fantasy unit existing in an imaginary universe in which vampires played a significant role in World War II.”
A Brexit Party spokesman defended Dr Cushway’s candidacy and told PA News Agency: “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.”
The spokesman said: “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.”
The Labour Party’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle won the seat with a large majority in 2017.