Young people in the audience of an MTV show pitting prime minister Tony Blair against European youth described him as “cynical” and “not convincing”.
Mr Blair’s debate with an audience of 16 to 24 year-olds from 24 countries was recorded on Thursday and will be shown around the world on Friday night.
Two of the audience, Pakistani-born law student Osman Anwar and Kurdish politics student Ibrahim Dogus told BBC’s Radio 5 Live on Friday morning they were not convinced by the prime minister.
They said he did not address important issues such as the West’s previous support – and arming – of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Last night Mr Anwar told Mr Blair it gave “hypocrisy a bad name” to support Hussein against Iran and then demand he give up weapons.
“I didn’t find him too convincing. The answer to my question he gave was that the weapons we had supplied to him had been exaggerated, but it does suggest there is an element of truth in there as well,” Mr Anwar said.
“But we don’t seem to get to the root of the problem here, which is the weapons we supply and the support we give to non-democratic regimes,” he said.
Mr Dogus said the show had given young people a valuable chance to put Mr Blair on the spot, however.
“It was a useful exercise, we had the chance to ask questions that are not asked by the media,” he said.
Mr Anwar said the prime minister’s most interesting comments came during breaks in filming, footage that would not make the broadcast.
“The discussions we had then were useful. You got more chance to rebuttal him.
“I think he’s very convinced of the war and wants to go, I think he is doing it for his moral conviction and I think he is sincere in that. However I don’t think it is his position, it is Washington’s decision,” Mr Anwar said.
Mr Blair has been keen to raise his profile amongst the youth in recent weeks.
He and Home Secretary David Blunkett jammed with youngsters at a school in Mr Blunkett’s constituency last month.