Changes in the position and strength of the Southern Hemisphere surface westerlies have significant implications for ocean circulation and the global carbon cycle. Here we compare the climatologies, as well as the trends, in the position and strength of the surface westerly wind-stress jet in reanalyses with the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) phase 3 and phase 5 models over the historical period from 1979–2010. We show that both the CMIP3 and CMIP5 models exhibit an equatorward biased climatological jet position. The reanalyses and climate models both show significant trends in annual mean jet strength, though the climate models underestimate the strengthening. Neither reanalyses nor models show a robust trend in annual mean jet position over the historical period, though significant trends do occur in the Austral summer position. We also compare the response of the CMIP3 and CMIP5 model wind-stresses to a range of anthropogenic forcing scenarios for the 21st century.