The civil service must be impartial and seen to be impartial. So, there should surely be a rule that stops permanent secretaries co-authoring books with SpAds. Sir Gus O’Donnell’s decision to write Microeconomic Reform in Britain: Delivering Opportunities for All
(note the highly political title) with Balls and another civil servant, the book has an introduction from Brown, makes it hard for the public to look upon him as an impartial arbiter.
Like my fellow reformist radical Fraser, I think there is a role for SPADs—indeed, I’d actually like more of them. But career civil servants must be impartial and be seen to be impartial. That doesn’t mean they should be obstructionist, or advocates of the status quo but they shouldn’t lend their name to things that are — or appear to be — political.