ALAS, gone are the heady days of the summer of 2014.

I remember standing in the middle of a sun-bleached Buchanan Street in Glasgow on the Saturday before the referendum with Lady Alba (also known as Zara Gladman). Her imaginative, quirky and persuasive contribution to the Yes campaign was just one example of the sassy, vibrant, creative energy that young people brought to the referendum.

Ideas for a better Scotland were firing around like particles in the Hadron Collider. Politics, for long dominated by the grey men in grey suits with grey ideas, suddenly became the new rock ’n’ roll. For a time, football, fashion and music were relegated to the sidelines as the debate over Scotland’s future captivated a new generation.

The tantalising prospect of an independent Scotland offered up the promise of an adventurous leap into the future. By breaking free of the tired old institutions of the UK state, mired in the mumbo-jumbo of medieval feudalism, anything and everything seemed to be possible.

Politics was being reclaimed by the people. We were even debating a brand new constitution that would aim to turn Scotland into the most progressive and enlightened democracy on the planet, with principles such as social and gender equality cemented into the bricks of our soon-to-be rejuvenated nation.

As a more hardened, and older, political hack, I remember feeling joyfully redundant. As a Yes vote became a real possibility, I looked forward to seeing the new talent unleashed and given its head to create something better.

Sadly, that dynamism seems to have stalled.

A TNS poll published this week confirmed that the SNP are on course for one of the biggest landslides in electoral history.

On the face of it Unionism is now living on borrowed time, as polls underline that every age group under 65 now supports independence.

But alarmingly, only half of under-35s are certain they will vote. A quarter say they definitely will not vote. These figures are in stark contrast with the over-55s, of whom 84 per cent say they will definitely vote, and just one in 10 intend to abstain. I read the comments under

The Herald article that reported this poll, expecting there might be an intelligent discussion about why this might be. Instead I found a rammy around the question of whether cybernats or cyberbrits are most prone to dishing out online abuse.

As a lifelong supporter of independence, I’d like to see our movement spend more time trying to recapture the spirit of 2014 and less time derailed into futile squabbles with entrenched No voters. Maybe this phase is the inevitable consequence of two traditional elections in two years.

The extraordinary aftermath of the referendum seemed to bear out the lyrics of the famous Bob Dylan anthem: “For the loser now will be later to win / for the times they are a-changing”.

Far from being demoralised by defeat, as most pundits had predicted, the Yes movement became even more energised in the final months of 2014. Groups such as Women for Independence actually grew at a faster rate after the No vote.

Unfortunately, others such as National Collective shut down – with much of their talent sucked into the unstoppable SNP juggernaut.

I get why people who are passionate about independence have mostly thrown their energy into the SNP. But party politics is a world away from street movements. And it’s starting to show. Take the past week, which has been dominated by the debate over Labour’s penny for Scotland proposal. Yes, you have heard that phrase before. In the first election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the SNP coined (so to speak) the slogan "A Penny for Scotland" while Labour argued that it would hurt low- and middle-income families the most. Now the parties have simply swapped ends as though they’ve been playing a tennis match.

When the great dividing line in this election is a 17-year-old policy with a different colour of rosette attached to it, it’s no wonder young people are turned off .

For me, the debate around this single transferable policy looks like the old politics we hoped might be swept away with a Yes vote.

The SNP look certain to sweep all in May. I fully intend to vote for John Swinney with my constituency vote. I don’t always agree with him on policy but I have great respect for him personally, and know that he’ll always do the right thing for his constituents. And he’s pro-independence, unlike all his rival candidates for North Perthshire.

But I’ll also be looking for the spark that keeps the indyref magic alive. I’m not taking too kindly to pressure demanding that I vote SNP 1 and 2. The SNP is not the only way to reinforce support for independence.

A good few radical and creative MSPs, untamed by traditional party discipline, are just what’s needed to remind everyone that the movement is broad and diverse and not under the control of any single party.

It was the scent of real power and democracy that turned out young people. The constant old-style party tribalism that has rumbled for a year, and will continue until May, conveys a sense that power is no longer with people, but politicians.

There are few cannier politicians than those in charge of the SNP. I genuinely hope, after the dust has settled on the May election, they will change direction and start to work with others to recreate a broad, grassroots Yes movement again. In the interest of independence, sometimes "the party" should take second place.