"Britons needed a 'pseudo-legalistic rationale'," Holland said. "It was about the 45-minute claim -- that was very much an argument that appealed peculiarly to the British," he said. "Blair put all of his eggs in one basket with the WMD argument." In Britain, the phrase was now tainted because of its political connotations that the administration had lied or had been just plain wrong. "Now it's seen as a false premise for an unsuccessful intervention," Holland said.
"The strategic use of language to sell interventions to the public is an extremely long-standing phenomenon. More recently these arguments are ever more important for making the case for war," he said. "There's a perceived need -- even if you've won an election -- to retain the image of speaking for a population," he said. "To get the population onside is essential."