A five-minute primer on an issue making headlines Happy birthday, Margaret Thatcher! The lady may not be for turning, unless it's turning 80, of course. It's not every former prime minister whose birthday party a queen would attend. But when the Iron Lady turned 80 last week, Queen Elizabeth came calling. At her party were 670 guests, many of them leading lights of society, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, singer Shirley Bassey and actress Joan Collins. How time flies - 80 already? I know, don't the 'Thatcher years' seem only yesterday, with Maggie waging war on Argentina in the Falklands, dismantling the trade unions, inciting riots by introducing the dreaded poll tax and making herself the enemy number one of every liberal in Britain? Ah, simpler times ... You mean when Baroness Thatcher was waging war, etc? That's true, she's now a member of the House of Lords, becoming a baroness in 1992. And while no longer an active player in the Conservative Party, her legacy as one of Britain's most powerful and iconic leaders still hangs heavily over the Tories, who have lost the past three elections and are now seeking their fifth leader in eight years. This led one wag to suggest that Baroness Thatcher follow in the footsteps of William Gladstone, who was 83 when he won his last election. He's joking, right? She couldn't really return to politics? Not a chance. She's in frail health and following a series of small strokes and on the advice of her doctors, stopped making public appearances several years ago. The past few years have been hard on her - husband Denis died in 2003 and her son, Mark, pleaded guilty in South Africa last year to unwittingly helping bankroll a failed coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, in West Africa. Why does Thatcher still hold people in thrall, 15 years after leaving power? I can't see people being this interested in John Major or Tony Blair a decade and a half later. Thatcher, love her or hate her, transformed Britain utterly. Born Margaret Hilda Roberts, the daughter of a shopkeeper, she entered Parliament at the age of 34 and a decade later was appointed education minister. In 1975, she challenged Edward Heath for leadership of the Tory party when another challenger backed down, and won. Reversing the socialist direction in which Britain seemed to heading, Baroness Thatcher took on the powerful unions and privatised nationalised industries. She outraged many by declaring war on Argentina over its invasion of the tiny Falkland Islands - some saw it as a cynical bid to garner support for the upcoming election, which she won. She's also credited with playing a major role in the collapse of Soviet communism. Then again, maybe people just remember her because she was Britain's longest serving prime minister and sported a bouffant hair-do and some very ugly handbags.