Tim Parker, the bubble-haired venture capitalist hired to cut costs at City Hall and make Mayor Boris’s vision a reality, strolls down the curved walkway to greet me smiling widely, just like his photographs. Tall and rangy, this socialist-turned-capitalist, who is to be paid just £1 a year, is all charm and apologies for failing to turn up for our appointment the day before. He takes responsibility like a good leader should, although I suspect the serried ranks of apparatchiks from the not-so-ancien régime of attempted sabotage. They should watch out: while turning round the AA, Parker earned the sobriquet ‘Prince of Darkness’ for his skill at excising surplus staff. Parker, Boris Johnson’s newly appointed First Deputy and chief executive of the Greater London Authority, built his career and fortune using private equity to sharpen the performance of uncompetitive companies such as the shoemaker C&J Clark, or those that had lost focus, like Kwik-Fit and the AA.