When PoliticsHome interviewed me about what the Blanchflower review of monetary policy might come up with (which will not report for some time), I couldn’t help but end with a plea.
“My biggest fear is that some people may try and put their political spin on anything we recommend, even when those recommendations come from an analysis of the technical academic literature. When I accepted an invitation to be on Labour's Economic Advisory Council, one or two people did suggest that this would damage my reputation as an economist. Given that being a member placed no restrictions on what I could do or say in public, or any obligation to support party policy, I thought it was an extraordinary accusation to make. Can you imagine a medic being told that they had damaged their reputation by advising policy makers about medical research?”
I used the example of medical research for reasons outlined here, and because I like comparing economists to medics.
As the economist Paul Romer has noted (see also here), political discourse is not like scientific discourse, and it is a problem when academics sometimes adopt a political way of thinking in their day job. In political discourse it is critical whose side you are on. If you are on one side anything that favours or helps the other side is presumed wrong. So when I agreed to be on Labour's Economic Advisory Council (EAC), many of those that were opposed to Corbyn’s leadership naturally assumed that I must be a Corbyn supporter. When I said that if George Osborne set up an equivalent of the EAC and invited me I would agree, and that I had indeed given advice to his Treasury and his advisors, the accusations changed from being the enemy to aiding and abetting the enemy. 
We were aiding the enemy because I and other EAC members are ‘providing legitimacy’ to the new leadership: we are being used for our reputations. And sure enough, here is John McDonnell doing exactly that in a recent speech:
“We’ve enshrined these commitments in our Fiscal Credibility Rule, drawn up with help from the world-leading economists on our Economic Advisory Council.”
Except that is exactly what happened: I gave a paper at the first EAC on what I thought the fiscal rule should be, it was discussed there, McDonnell’s team then developed it internally, discussed their version of it with Labour’s shadow cabinet and the rule was made public.
Labour’s new fiscal rule, as far as I know, is the first fiscal rule that sensibly responds to the possibility that monetary policy can run out of reliable ammunition (QE is much less reliable than fiscal policy), and I hope that sets an example that others will follow.  I also think politicians should get credit for listening to economists and adopting sensible rules or creating useful institutions. That is exactly what Gordon Brown did in 1997/8, and what George Osborne did in 2010 in establishing the OBR.
In my view the EAC is a useful innovation in economic policy making, because the link between academic economics and policy has become weaker in recent years for various reasons. The EAC is unusual in part because it makes the politician who set it up vulnerable. Any member of the EAC can, if they wish, publicly criticise Labour policy and get additional media coverage as a result of EAC membership. And academics being ideas people rather than political people might be particularly prone to do that. That is a level of vulnerability that many politicians would avoid. (See this for example.) That is one reason why it is misguided to suggest that we should have given our advice in private rather than through a public body like the EAC.
Some who are enmeshed in political discourse say that policies are two a penny and can be put in place in an instant: it is only leadership and winning that matters. I suspect much the same is true for many (not all) political commentators, who often see policies as simply weapons to attract voters. As Gaby Hinsliff remarks, many political commentators have a bias to those they see as winners. But I don’t want a world where academics only give policy advice to politicians who they support or who they think will win. It politicises economics, and that can damage the credibility of the subject.
Because academic economists, or academics of any kind, give advice on their policy area to politicians should never have to mean that those academics support those politicians. People enmeshed in political discourse find it hard to understand that, but I refuse to accommodate them. My job is economic policy, and I while I will do what I can to try and get politicians to adopt policies based on sound economics, those means do not include adopting a political discourse.
 For the record, no one in the Labour Party from 2010 onwards asked me for my advice on any occasion. This was despite (or maybe because of) everything that I wrote opposing George Osborne’s austerity policies and defending the Labour government's fiscal policy on my blog (which started at the end of 2011). Had they done so, I would have gladly given it.
 Those who might be tempted to see the zero lower bound knockout as just a 'loophole', you just betray your mediamacro mindset. Those tempted to say anyone on the left would have adopted this type of rule, go read some MMT.