Mark Gettleson

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Mark Gettleson
Chair of LDYS/Liberal Youth
In office
June 2006 – June 2008
LeaderSir Menzies Campbell
Nick Clegg
Preceded byGez Smith
Succeeded byElaine Bagshaw
Personal details
Born (1984-11-15) 15 November 1984 (age 37)
Ruislip, Middlesex, England
Political partyLiberal Democrats (1999–2020) (UK)
Alma materKing's College, Cambridge

Mark Charles Gettleson (born 15 November 1984) is a British political, communications and community engagement consultant, former Liberal Democrat politician, and political pundit. He has worked for a series of non-profits and political campaigns - including the Liberal Democrats, the Howard League for Penal Reform, PolticsHome, SCL Elections, Vote Leave, Rory Stewart for London. He specialises in messaging, qualitative research and innovative forms of community engagement. A political pundit, he has written extensively for The Spectator, PoliticsHome, The House magazine, and has appeared on Sky News, BBC News, CNBC and LBC. In 2018, he gave evidence to the Electoral Commission, which allowed them to conclude their case against Vote Leave.[1]


Born in Ruislip to a Portobello Road antiques dealer,[2] Gettleson attended the independent John Lyon School in Harrow, receiving the prize for the outstanding John Lyon Scholar of 2003.[3] He then read history at King's College, Cambridge between 2003 and 2006.[3] He secured a 2.1 in history in his final-year exams.[4]

Student politics, 2003-8[edit]

Cambridge University, 2003-6[edit]

At university, Gettleson was chair of Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats for fifteen months from 2004 to 2005.[4] He led the Liberal Democrat student campaign in the 2005 General Election, which was credited with the party's successful election result in the constituency. Varsity newspaper described him in 2006 as "one of Cambridge’s most prolific committee members", noting that he had served as the King's College Student Union's LGBT Officer, and as its External Officer to the Cambridge University Students' Union, and was twice elected as a university delegate to the National Union of Students conference.[4]

LDYS/Liberal Youth, 2006-8[edit]

After graduation, Gettleson was elected to two terms as Chair of Liberal Youth, serving from 2006 to 2008. During this time, he ran campaigns focusing on tackling homophobic bullying in schoolsHe presided over the rebranding of the society from its former name (as Liberal Democrat Youth and Students) to Liberal Youth. [5] The Independent covered the launch of the rebrand, describing him as "one to watch."[6]

Liberal Democrat politics, 1999-present[edit]

Gettleson first joined the Liberal Democrats in 1999, aged 14.[4][2] Aged 16, he recruited his father as a Liberal Democrat council candidate in the London Borough of Hillingdon and helped to manage his successful campaign, taking a safe Conservative seat from third place."[2] In 2006, Gettleson stood as a Lib Dem candidate for Eastcote and East Ruislip ward to the London Borough of Hillingdon, but was unsuccessful.[7] In 2008, he was approved as a parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats,[8] but was defeated in the nomination for the Dulwich & West Norwood constituency by a single vote. In 2013, as a representative of the Liberal Democrats, he worked on a Westminster Foundation for Democracy Project, helping to develop political youth movements in Tunisia.[8]

Southwark Liberal Democrats, 2008-14[edit]

From 2008 to 2010, he served as Campaign Manager for Southwark Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes and was successful in securing the highest ever number of votes for the party in the constituency.[9][2] At the Southwark London Borough Council election, 2010, Gettleson was comfortably elected in Southwark's Grange ward, coming second of ten candidates with 2,328 votes. He served as a Councillor for the next four years. During that time, Gettleson championed issues of traffic safety, preservation of heritage and the need for affordable housing - serving on the council's Planning Committee.[10] As a Councillor in 2013, Gettleson was part of the team that successfully raised £100,000 for Evelina London Children's Hospital.[11] Gettleson stood down in 2014 and while Labour gained one of the seats in the ward in Southwark London Borough Council election, 2014, all three seats were again in Lib Dem hands by 2020.

Norman Lamb leadership campaign, 2015[edit]

In 2015, Gettleson was a leading member of the leadership campaign for Norman Lamb, overseeing policy development and messaging.[12] He was credited with writing eye-catching policies on cannabis legalisation (which later became party policy) and reducing the prison population. As a member of the campaign team, he wrote devised a poll that investigated rival Tim Farron's stances on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. As the campaign manager disputed having approved this poll, Gettleson resigned from the campaign. Lamb subsequently described Gettleson as "a deeply principled man driven by decent values".[1]

General Election, 2020[edit]

Gettleson was active in the 2020 Liberal Democrat campaign in Chelsea & Fulham, overseeing the strategy and messaging for Nicola Horlick. The campaign was successful in improving the party's vote by 15 percentage points, resulting in a second-place finish for the first time.[13]

Non-profits and technology, 2012-present[edit]

The Howard League for Penal Reform, 2012-14[edit]

Gettleson joined the Howard League for Penal Reform, the world's oldest criminal justice charity, in 2012, overseeing their communications and campaigns. During this time, he took part in numerous TV and radio appearances on behalf of the charity, focusing on issues related to privatisation of the justice system, probation and prison conditions. He opposed plans for a new youth prison in Leicestershire[14] and led campaigns for non-violent offences to be non-imprisonable.[15] In 2013, he appeared on Sky News to claim then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's plans for probation reform were unworkable - a programme that was later scrapped.[16] He also focused on tackling the arrest of primary school children.[17]

Nextdoor, 2016-18[edit]

Gettleson worked as a launcher and later community engagement manager for Nextdoor, the largest neighbourhood-based social network in the world. He launched in network in both London and Wales - including a launch event with Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty - and managed the organisation's liaison with local government and the police.[18][19]

Founders4Schools, 2018-19[edit]

Gettleson managed community engagement and business outreach for the education and employability non-profit Founders4Schools, recruiting nearly 10,000 business leaders to go into schools to help inspire young people on their future careers. The organisation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sherry Coutu, has brokered more than 1.2 million student-employer encounters.[20]

Political consultancy, 2013-present[edit]

SCL Elections[edit]

In 2014, Gettleson began working as a contractor for SCL Elections, as their Head of Messaging for American elections, an international consultancy specialising in data-driven targeting in elections.[21] In the 2014 U.S. mid-term elections, Gettleson worked through SCL Elections as an adviser on messaging and communications to several PACs, Senate and Governor campaigns.[8] Running a programme of focus groups across the United State, Gettleson came up with sample campaign messaging, which then be honed online through multi-variate testing.[22] Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr described him as having been "a focus group expert"[21], and he oversaw the company's messaging activities. He ceased working with SCL early in 2015.[23]

Eunoia Technologies, 2015-6[edit]

In December 2014, Christopher Wylie registered Eunoia Technologies Inc in Delaware.[22] While Gettleson did no work with the company, he was initially described as its Director of Communications[23] and served as Director of a wholly-owned UK subsidy.[22] The company offered targeting and segmentation services for brands and campaigns.[22] In Easter 2015, Gettleson attended a meeting in New York with Donald Trump's then-campaign manager on his 2016 presidential bid, Corey Lewandowski and with Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.[24] In November 2015, Eunoia Technologies pitched a microtargeting project to the Liberal Party of Canada, securing a $100,000 contract in January 2016 for a pilot project with the Liberal Caucus Research Bureau.[25][26] In January 2016, Eunoia pitched to both the Remain and Leave campaigns to provide targeting services for the referendum.[22][27] Eunoia Technologies Ltd was voluntarily wound up in October 2017,[22] with accounts running up to 31st May 2016.[28] No work was ever undertaken by the company.

EU Referendum campaign, 2016[edit]

During a short period at the beginning of the campaign,[22] Gettleson was a consultant for the Vote Leave in the United Kingdom European Union referendum, 2016. He was tasked with providing advice on progressive outreach, so as to help Vote Leave win their designation against Leave.EU.[8] He was recruited to the campaign by Vote Leave's National Organiser Stephen Parkinson,[1] a Cambridge contemporary of his.[22]

Gettleson ceased working at Vote Leave on 14 April 2016, after designated status had been achieved.[29][30] He later elaborated on what his duties at Vote Leave had involved:[31] BeLeave campaign concept and website, Out&Proud concept and website, Green Leaves campaign concept and website, Liberal Leave campaign material and content, BME literature copy, Overall assistance with designation [as the 'official' Leave campaign, Leading campaign volunteer recruitment, Head-hunting successful digital team.

In March 2018, lawyers acting for Gettleson submitted a statement and dossier of evidence on his behalf to the Electoral Commission, alleging that "Vote Leave broke spending limits on an industrial scale."[1] Gettleson had originally intended to maintain his anonymity, being identified in filings with the Electoral Commission simply as "J", and was described as a "reluctant whistleblower"; but Carole Cadwalladr noted in The Guardian that "it’s only because Dominic Cummings has called [Vote Leave eyewitnesses Christopher] Wylie and [Shahmir] Sanni “liars and charlatans” and launched legal proceedings against the lawyers involved that the full legal opinion [containing Gettleson's evidence], which identifies him, is being made public."[1]


Gettleson has had regular political analysis columns in outlets such as The Spectator[32], Capx[33] and ConservativeHome, [34] as well as in The House magazine[35] and PoliticsHome.[36] In 2011, Total Politics magazine named him one of Britain's top 100 non-aligned political bloggers.[37]

As an election analyst, Gettleson has frequently provided predictions around forthcoming elections. In 2012, he correctly predicted the centrality of Ohio to Barack Obama's election victory.[38] In 2013, he offered an early analysis of the kinds of areas UKIP performed well - a harbinger of their success in the years to come.[39] In 2014, he successfully predicted the Republicans would win the Senate elections, almost alone among pundits for calling each state correctly.[40]

In October 2015, Gettleson predicted that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden would be a stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2016: "My instinct is that...sooner rather than later, Joe may well decide to take the plunge", and that "Biden will be hard to beat."[41] While he didn't run in 2016, Clinton failed in that election, and the factors outlined by Gettleson were key to Biden's success in his 2020 run.[36]

During the 2020 election, Gettleson correctly predicted the shift of Latino votes away from the Democrats as likely to cost the party Florida[42], as well as numerous counties that would by key to Joe Biden's victory against Donald Trump.[43]


Gettleson is gay[2] and Jewish.[2] He describes himself as a "liberal do-gooder”, citing his own voluntary work with Grenfell relief projects, and a former job as a Campaigns and Communications Manager for the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2013-4, as proof of this.[1]

On 3 July 2016, Gettleson was an eyewitness to the murder of teenager Fola Orebiyi in Notting Hill.[44]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Carole Cadwalladr, 'Vote Leave broke spending limits on industrial scale, says former staffer', The Guardian,14 April 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 'Like mother, like son: Will your parents influence how you vote?', The Independent, 7 April 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Lyonian, 2003 (London: John Lyon School), p. 6.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 'The Varsity 100', Varsity, Issue 630, 20 January 2006, p. 28.
  5. Alex Foster, 'Nick Clegg launches Liberal Youth', Liberal Democrat Voice, 25 March 2008,
  6. 'Pandora', aka Henry Deedes, The Independent, 27 March 2008.
  7. 'Eastcote & East Ruislip ward results 2006', London Borough of Hillingdon, 5 May 2006.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Vote Leave campaign, 'APPLICATION APPENDIX A1: [List of] Vote Leave HQ staff', Electoral Commission, March 2016, p. 7.
  9. Mark Gettleson, 'Why Tim Farron's Record on Gay Marriage Matters', HuffingtonPostUK, 15 July 2015.
  10. 'Controversial Melior Street development approved', London SE1, 6 April 2014.
  11. Chiara Giordano, 'We Did It! We’ve Raised More Than £100,000 for Evelina London Children's Hospital Thanks to Southwark', Southwark News, 2 February 2017.
  12. Sam Coates, 'Vote Leave dodged limits on spending, says insider', The Times, 13 April 2018, p. 4.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Carole Cadwalladr, 'The great British Brexit Robbery: how our democracy was hijacked', The Observer, 7 May 2017.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 22.7 'Wylie's People', Private Eye No. 1497, 6 April 2018, p. 12.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Ryan Mac, 'The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Said He Wanted To Create “The NSA’s Wet Dream”', Buzzfeed, 22 March 2018.
  24. Ryan Mac, 'The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Wanted His New Company To Work With Trump Campaign’s Manager', Buzzfeed, 28 March 2018.
  25. Andy Blatchford, 'Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy', CBC, 21 March 2018.
  26. Amanda Connolly, 'Here’s what the Liberals paid Cambridge Analytica’s Chris Wylie to do — and what they say he didn’t do', Global News, 21 March 2018.
  27. Dominic Cummings, 'On the referendum #24: Global conspiracies and a Scooby Doo ending?', Dominic Cummings' blog, 23 March 2018.
  28. 'Eunoia Technologies Ltd: filing history', Companies House, 23 March 2018.
  29. Mark Gettleson, 'Invoicing email to Antonia Flockton' - submitted by Gettleson as appendix to evidence filed with Electoral Commission, Fairvote, 27 June 2016.
  30. Mark Gettleson, 'Email to Stephen Parkinson' - submitted by Gettleson as appendix to evidence filed with Electoral Commission, Fairvote, 8 April 2016.
  31. Mark Gettleson, 'Invoicing email to Antonia Flockton' - submitted by Gettleson as appendix to evidence filed with Electoral Commission, Fairvote, 27 June 2016.
  32. Mark Gettleson, author page, The Spectator, 2013.
  34. Mark Gettleson, author page, ConservativeHome, 2012.
  35. Mark Gettleson, 'The Knowledge', The House, 5 October 2012, p. 8.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Mark Gettleson, 'Clinton is heading for victory. But the battle for the Senate is far from over' ', PoliticsHome, 18 October 2016.
  41. Mark Gettleson, 'Joe Biden's moment is now', The Spectator, 13 October 2015.
  44. Barney Davis, Matt Watts, John Dunne, Justin Davenport, 'Notting Hill stabbing: Fola Orebiyi killed 'by gang of youths on bikes' ', Evening Standard, 4 July 2016.

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