On Monday evening, the BBC altered its programme schedule to broadcast an hour-long tribute to an old man who had died aged 95, with fawning contributions from the likes of historian Simon Schama and Labour peer Melvyn Bragg.
The next day, the Left-leaning Guardian filled not only the front page and the whole of an inside page but also devoted almost its entire G2 Supplement to the news. The Times devoted a leading article to the death, and a two-page obituary.
You might imagine, given all this coverage and the fact that Tony Blair and Ed Miliband also went out of their way to pay tribute, that the nation was in mourning.
Yet I do not believe that more than one in 10,000 people in this country had so much as heard of Eric Hobsbawm, the fashionable Hampstead Marxist who was the cause of all this attention.
He had, after all, been open in his disdain for ordinary mortals.
Hobsbawm came to Britain as a refugee from Hitler’s Europe before the war, but, as he said himself, he wished only to mix with intellectuals. ‘I refused all contact with the suburban petit bourgeoisie which I naturally regarded with contempt.’ Naturally.
If the name Hobsbawm rings a bell at all, people might recollect that it was also the name of Julia Hobsbawm, a PR expert who, in collaboration with the future Mrs Gordon Brown, was one of the spin doctors who sold New Labour to this country.
There is a world of difference between the ideology of Julia’s sleek, modern New Labour ideas and her father’s hard-nosed Stalinism, but one of the things they had in common was contempt for ‘ordinary people’.