British Prime Minister TONY BLAIR this afternoon (March 6) took part in a live question and answer session with MTV viewers in an attempt to convince the MTV generation of the need for action against SADDAM HUSSEIN, telling the audience “I oppose war unless its the last resort.”
However, Mr Blair did say he would push for action, even without a full second UN resolution. Insisting he was sure a second resolution would be passed, Blair warned:
“If there was a veto applied by one of the countries with a veto or by countries that I thought were applying the veto unreasonably, then in those circumstances I would.”
The hour-long debate, ‘Is War The Answer?’, saw Blair take questions from a carefully selected audience of 40 16-24-year-olds assembled from across Europe, the Middle East and Iraq. For security reasons, it was filmed in Wembley, north London, well away from MTV’s Camden Headquarters.
Press covering the event were not told the location, meeting instead in a central London hotel before being bussed out. The programme will be broadcast across MTV networks in Europe tomorrow (March 7) at 9pm (GMT).
Hosted by BBC Radio 1’s Trevor Nelson, the show saw the PM face two dozen questions during his time in the chair. While he addressed topics ranging from whether or not the war was about oil, whether or not he would support action without a second UN resolution, what the Iraqi regime would be replaced with and the moral questions of civilian casualties, he was never ruffled by his questioners and never lost his cool.
While Blair conceded there was no imminent danger from Iraq when the eyes of the world were turned to Baghdad, he insisted action still had to taken to remove Saddam.
“War is not the answer, not in the first place,” he said. “Human rights have to be top of the agenda. I oppose war unless it’s the last resort.” However, Saddam’s record of abuse against his own people and the possibility of him passing weapons onto to terrorists meant he had to be removed, Blair added.
When asked when he’d start convincing people on the streets of the need for action rather than diplomatically schmoozing world leaders, Blair replied, “I’m here, I’m quite happy”, only to be told “but its not really working.”
It was a sentiment shared by many of those in the audience.
“I don’t think this will make a blind bit of difference to people”, Imran Saithna, 24, of Young Muslims UK said. “I think it might help raise awareness, but that’s it. I came in with the opinion that war is not justified even with a second UN resolution and to be honest, I left with exactly the same opinion.”